The mainstream market isn't stressing enough why children and adults must use clean sunscreens. Hence, we thought of addressing its importance. We invited two experts in this field to share their knowledge and experience below.
• Sophia Hatziantoniou, a Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Technology in the University of Patras
• Britta John, an experienced German Journalist and book Author on beauty and cosmetics, with many years of expertise in the segment of organic skin care
1. What ingredients in a sunscreen give sun protection?
The active ingredients of a sunscreen are the substances that provide the protection from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. These substances are called UV filters and are classified in two major groups: the chemical filters and mineral filters.
2. What are the chemical filters?
Chemical ultraviolet filters include p-aminobenzoic acid derivatives (p-aminobenzoic acid), salicylic acid derivatives (salicylic acid phenolic ester and salicylic acid 3,3,5-trimethyl-cyclohexyl ester), of cinnamic acid and polymeric materials.
Substances in this category due to their molecular structure which include aromatic rings and carbonyls, have the ability to absorb high energy UV radiation and deliver it as lower energy radiation without causing significant change in their molecule.
3. What are the mineral/natural filters?
Mineral/Natural filters (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are minerals of natural origin. They act by reflecting or scattering the incident UV radiation. These filters, although difficult to formulate in esthetically pleasing products, are nevertheless preferred because they are very well tolerated when applied on the skin.
4. What is the difference between using chemical filters vs mineral/natural?
Chemical UV filters being highly lipophilic may easily penetrate the skin and may cause several side effects both topical (acne, irritation) or systemic (hormonal disruptors). Due to their mechanism of action, some UV filters of this category are chemically unstable as they undergo photochemical degradation that compromises the provided protection.
On the other hand, mineral UV filters do not penetrate the skin but are incorporated on the outermost layers of stratum corneum forming a protective shield against UV light.
5. Why zinc oxide is considered safer than titanium dioxide among the physical filters?
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide act by absorbing and scattering UV light. Both are effective at blocking UVB light. Concerning UVA light titanium dioxide is only partly effective against it as it only blocks short UVA wavelengths (UVA II), and almost completely ineffective against long UVA wavelengths (UVA I). On the contrary zinc oxide offers a broad spectrum protection as it completely blocks all the range of UVA light (Fig. 1). This is the reason that several sunscreens can relay on the use solely of zinc oxide as UV filter to provide adequate broad-spectrum protection.
Lately, titanium dioxide has come into the spotlight with questions about its safety, in particular on a nanoscale level. In Europe, cosmetics containing nano titanium dioxide need to be labeled accordingly.
The European Union is also planning to ban the use as a food additive.
VIVAIODAYS Turmeric Sunscreen contains only No-Nano Mineral Zinc Oxide Filter
6. What is the UVB, UBA and IR protection?
Solar radiation that reaches the earth consists mainly of Ultraviolet (UV), visible (Vis) and infrared (IR) light (Fig. 2).
The amount of the UV radiation that reaches our skin depends by many factors, such as the season of the year, the hour of the day, the geographical location and the weather, although quite a significant percentage can penetrate the clouds (Table 1) causing significant skin damage. In particular UV rays are responsible for skin aging (UVA) or cancer (UVB). Some scientists have also linked IR to inflammation, loss of skin hydration and degradation of collagen and elastin.
In order to avoid the harmful effects of radiation we need to protect the skin area that is directly exposed. One of the best ways to protect our skin is the regular use of sunscreens that are properly designed to be effective.
7. What is Broad Spectrum protection?
The solar radiation that reaches the surface of the earth after being filtered by the intact atmosphere, is in general beneficial. The overexposure in specific wavelengths like UV radiation, is known to be responsible for causing several severe damages. In order to enjoy only the benefits of a day in the sun we need to protect our skin from all the harmful radiation. Broad spectrum protection is provided by the really effective sunscreens that fully protects against all harmful wavelengths (UVB, UVA, IR).
VIVAIODAYS Turmeric Sunscreen provides Broad Spectrum Sun Protection
8. SPF 30 vs SPF 50
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is related to the amount of UV radiation that is been blocked by the sunscreen (Fig. 3).
As it is depicted in Figure 3, a sunscreen with SPF 30 is considered an adequate choice since it provides effective protection of the skin, while at the same time prevents its unnecessary contact with unnecessary extra amount ingredients.
9. Sunscreens in USA vs Sunscreens in EU
Sunscreens that are placed in the European Union (EU) are considered cosmetics and are regulated by the European Medicine Agency (EMA) under the cosmetic regulation (EC No 1223/2009).
In the USA sunscreens are regulated as “Over-The-Counter” drugs because due to the recognized public health benefits of their use, they are allowed medical claims such as “to help prevent sunburn” or “to decrease the risks of skin cancer and early skin aging” caused by the sun. As a medicinal product, sunscreens must pass some tests before entering the US market.
VIVAIODAYS Turmeric Sunscreen meets both US & EU regulation standards
10. What is the ideal quantity of sunscreen to apply?
More important than the SPF number is the correct amount of sunscreen product used. To achieve the indicated sun protection factor, you need to apply the product liberally – and many people use less than they should.
11. What makes a sunscreen NOT coral reef safe?
The sunscreens that we use for our protection from the UV light are washing off each time we are in contact with water. When we swim in the sea, river, lake or the pool and when we shower, the sunscreen ingredients enter the water resources. Some ingredients of the sunscreen products and in particular some UV filters have been considered responsible for the damaging of the marine life in general, affecting green algae, corals, mussels, sea urchins, fish and sea mammals. The UV filters that have been accused as harmful for the marine life belong to the chemical group (Table 2) while sunscreens containing mineral UV-filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are considered safe for marine life when they are used in their conventional (non-nano) particle sizes.
VIVAIODAYS Turmeric Sunscreen is Reef Safe
12. Why a sunscreen should be water resistant?
Whether working-up, playing at a park, swimming in a pool or in the ocean – sweat or water will cause your sunscreen to wear off, exposing skin to harmful UV rays. A water resistant sunscreen will stay on wet skin a little longer, keeping it protected. By general definition, water resistant sunscreen should remain effective for 40 minutes in the water. Then you'll need to reapply the product.
VIVAIODAYS Turmeric Sunscreen is water resistant
13. What about a spray sunscreen?
A spray sunscreen is easy to apply but the amount of each application is not easily controlled since it cannot be visually detected. Another major risk is that the galenic form (spray) can be accidentally breathed in.
14. Why some sunscreens leave white cast on skin? How to minimize it?Mineral UV filters consist of solid particles that are insoluble to most solvents used for topically applied products. The size of these particles is an important feature that affect the characteristics of the final product. Sunscreens with mineral UV filters have usually thick textures and feel heavier during application on the skin. Also, they are known to leave a whitish hue that is aesthetically non-pleasing.
The common way to minimize this white cast effect is the replacement of the ingredient with nanoparticles. The use of nanoparticles however is often accompanied with several undesirable effects both in living organisms and the environment.
The most modern approach is the use of appropriate auxiliary ingredients (excipients) to ameliorate the spread-ability of the sunscreen on the skin. Such ingredients may be various oils and butters preferably of natural origin, to ease out the distribution of zinc oxide during application, leaving no white cast on the skin surface.
VIVAIODAYS Turmeric Sunscreen contains a mix of natural/organic sea buckthorn, olive fruit, jojoba seed and sunflower oils as well as shea butter to enhance the spread-ability of Zinc Oxide while leaving no white cast
15. What is the importance of using no nano zinc oxide?
Nano-materials raise health – and environmental – concerns. The use of these microscopic particles is controversial, as they could possibly penetrate the skin and reach the deeper tissue layers. Nanoparticles can also be found in waste water causing environmental problems.
VIVAIODAYS Turmeric Sunscreen is formulated with only Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Filters
16. How often should we reapply sunscreen?
We should reapply sunscreen at least as often as indicated on the product. But remember that sunscreen also rubs off on your clothes or towel, is diluted by sweating or partially washes off in water. So reapply at least every two hours. But even if you reapply, you will not extend the efficacy of the SPF – aka how long you can be in the sun without developing sunburn.
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