Sunscreen Related FAQ:
About the sunscreens we carry. We carry the purest all-natural and preservative-free sunscreen lotion available. Our sunblocks use a variety of safe ingredients to prevent sunburn and protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays. They do not contain aromatic and irritating chemical sunscreen agents like PABA, octyl-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate), benzophenone, and oxybenzone. Instead, our sunscreens use physical (non-chemical) blocking agents, like zinc oxide, to protect against solar radiation. If you plan on being in the sun for extended periods of time, our physical sunscreens offer the safest protection available.
Where can I learn about sunscreen active ingredients (physical verses chemical), SPF ratings, application advice, etc..? One of the best resources we've found for sunscreen info was published by the EPA in 2006. It is called The Burning Facts and is a PDF document. Great read!
I have very sensitive skin and have tried many different sunscreens before - what do you recommend? Depending on the type of sensitivity, some of our customers are sensitive to refined fatty acids while others are more sensitive to essential oils/smells and some are sensitive to both. Our sunscreens generally fall into two different formula categories - an unrefined oil base and a coconut fatty acid base. Both are well tolerated by sensitive skin.
For our very sensitive customers - we recommend the unrefined oil base products. This includes;
Although some of the above sunscreens are scented to a certain degree with solvent-free essential oils, their un-refined oil base is typically much better tolerated than the more refined oil bases like stearic acid/zinc stearate and/or coconut fatty acids (caprylic/capric triglycerides). With sensitive skin we always recommend unrefined products over refined products. Tip for very sensitive skin: Products that do not contain stearic acid seem to be better tolerated than those than do contain stearic acid. Thus caprylic/capric triglycerides-only blends (such as: Reflect Outdoor Balm SPF 15 by Miessence & Devita Solar Body Block SPF 30) are better tolerated than products that contain both stearic acid/zinc stearate and caprylic/capric triglycerides. To learn more about Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides and stearic acid please see our About Us page.
For those that are sensitive to scented products, we listed our unscented sunscreens below;
UV Natural Line: Adult & Baby. Although these UV Natural sunscreens are unscented - the adult and baby formulas contain a high concentration of zinc (which allows for superior UV protection). Some people can smell the zinc - the smell is reminiscent of diaper cream.
I'm looking for a body lotion that also contains sunscreen, what do you recommend?Devita's Solar Body Block SPF 30, Keys Solar Rx SPF 30+, and Sun Shield Moisturizer by The Vital Image work well as a dual body lotion/sunscreen product. The Keys formula is more moisturizing than the Devita formula. Sun Shield feels nice and lite once it absorbs...but it takes a little longer than Devita or Keys to fully absorb. Sun Shield is the thinnest formula (although rich with natural oils)...meaning it has more of a lotion consistency, while Devita and Keys have a slightly thicker consistency. If you have very dry skin you could always apply a layer of sunscreen first and then apply one of our Hand & Body Lotions on top for extra softness.
Which sunscreen is best to use on my face under my make-up ?Devita's Daily Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30, Solar Rx SPF 30+ by Keys, and Sun Shield Moisturizer by The Vital Image
are our three cosmetic sunscreens (meaning they are great to wear daily under makeup). Devita is our best selling facial sunscreen and is ideal for oily and normal skin types - it is unscented, absorbs quickly into the skin and feel super light. Solar Rx SPF 30+ by Keys is also a best seller. It has a mild-moderate spicy scent from the cumin oils and is great for dry and normal skin types. The Keys sunblock offers more UV protection then Devita. Sun Shield by The Vital Image has a mild solvent-free floral scent and is ideal for dry skin, but can also be used by all skin types (if used in moderation). With Sun Shield a little goes a long way. Please note that cosmetic sunscreens are not waterproof. Although both our Badger and UV Natural sunscreens can also be used on your face - most people find them too thick to wear under make-up.
What is the all the hub bub about nanoparticle zinc oxide and titanium dioxide? The nanoparticle debate has been a hot topic over the last few years. Nanoparticles have been used in sunscreen products since 1990. Their small size is more transparent on skin, thus reducing the infamous white residue of early mineral based sunblocks. Concern has been raised over the safety of these tiny particles - Can they absorb into cells and cause damage? The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) conducted a review of scientific literature in relation to nanoparticulate zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreens. The review concluded that:
"There is evidence from isolated cell experiments that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can induce free radical formation in the presence of light and that this may damage these cells (photo-mutagenicity with zinc oxide). However, this would only be of concern in people using sunscreens if the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide penetrated into viable skin cells. The weight of current evidence is that they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer dead layer (stratum corneum) of the skin."
So, current research seems to support the safety of nanoparticles on healthy skin. However, there is little research about the absorption potential of nanoparticles on damaged skin such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, etc. When applied to damaged skin, we have concerns that the smaller ultrafine particles may be more easily absorbed by our cells and may cause cellular damage when exposed to sunlight. Naturally, we prefere to be safe than sorry, so we found some great tips and tricks on how use sunscreen safely. The following 4 questions (#8, 9, 10 & 11) address our concerns.
What is safer - nanoparticle mineral based sunscreens (zinc oxide & titanium dioxide) or chemical based sunscreens (Aminobenzoic acid [PABA], avobenzone, benzophenone, cinnamates etc)? Physical UV blocking sunscreen agents like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are much safer than chemical UV absorbing agents like PABA and oxybenzone. The EWG supports the use of nanoparticle zinc & titanium over chemical based sunscreens! We posted their major points below;
Consumers who use chemical sunscreen blockers are likely exposed to more UV radiation and greater numbers of hazardous ingredients than consumers relying on zinc and titanium products for sun protection.
Chemical sunscreens accelerate by an average of 20% the skin damage, premature aging, wrinkling, and UV-induced immune system damage linked to UVA exposure, compared to zinc and titanium sunscreens.
Chemical sunscreens contain four times as many high hazard ingredients known or strongly suspected to cause cancer or birth defects, to disrupt human reproduction or damage the growing brain of a child.
Chemical sunscreens contain more toxins on average in every major category of health harm considered: cancer (10% more), birth defects and reproductive harm (40% more), neurotoxins (20% more), endocrine system disruptors (70% more), and chemicals that can damage the immune system (70% more).
Pure Complexions prefers zinc oxide over titanium dioxide based sunscreens. Why are zinc oxide based sunscreens safer than titanium dioxide based sunscreens? In vitro (in the lab), oxide molecules are photo-reactive, which means when they are exposed to sunlight, they begin to react with biological systems and can cause the formation of free radicals. If left unchecked, free radicals can cause cellular damage. Titanium dioxide is more photo-reactive than zinc oxide, thus titanium dioxide has the potential to produce more cellular damage. Ironically, sunburns also cause free radical damage. So, if you can't avoid the sun, we believe zinc oxide is the safest FDA approved sunscreen agent available.
How can I maximize the safety of my zinc oxide sunscreen? To minimize free radical exposure, we have several tips and tricks:
Re-apply Frequently: By re-applying sunscreen every 2 hours you can reduce the amount of free radicals produced. You see, the oxide particles must absorb deeper into the skin to cause free radical related cellular damage. If application of sunscreen is frequent enough, it will prevent sunlight from reaching any deeper seated oxide particles [see study].
Antioxidants: To minimize free radical damage, we reccommend applying an antioxidant rich skin cream to any damaged/broken skin areas and then applying a layer of sunscreen on top. The antioxidants will neutralize any free radicals generated by the zinc oxide and ultimately protect against cellular damage. PRL's DNA Repair Cream is the most potent antioxidant formula on the market. Another option is to rub a few drops of Super Nano Green Tea Extract into you skin before applying your sunscreen. Green tea is a potent antioxidant and UV protectant!
What is the difference between coated and uncoated zinc oxide? Our zinc oxide based sunscreens contain either coated or uncoated zinc oxide particles. Coated zinc particles are encased in some type of protective coating that prevent our biological systems from reacting to the zinc oxide. There are several different types of coatings on the market (ex. silicone, aluminum, paraffin, triethoxycaprylylsilane, capric/caprylic). Our manufacturers use either a silica derived coating called triethoxycaprylylsilane or a more natural coating derived from coconut oil called capric/caprylic triglycerides. These coatings cause zinc oxide to become photo-stable. Photo-stable zinc oxide is less likely to form free radicals when exposed to sunlight. The coatings do not effect SPF value or UV absorption of the zinc. Uncoated zinc is simply plain zinc oxide particles. Plain zinc oxide has many natural therapeutic qualities including; anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory effects. We offer both types here at Pure Complexions.
UV Natural Line: Adult, Baby, Sport. UV Natural uses a more natural coating agent that is derived from coconut oil called capric/caprylic triglycerides. Capric/caprylic tryglycerides are solvent-free and very well tolerated by sensitive skin.
Does Pure Complexions' Staff prefer uncoated or coated zinc oxide? We have sensitive skin, so we prefer to use an uncoated zinc oxide sunscreen. Uncoated zinc oxide is the purer form of zinc oxide. We prefer to use products that are as close to natural as possible. The more natural it is...the better it is tolerated by sensitive skin. Generally speaking, the free radicals generated by uncoated zinc oxide are less damaging than the free radicals generated by a sun burn. So if we are going to be in the sun (long enough to burn) our priority is a sensitive-skin-friendly sunscreen that wont make us itch or breakout. Also uncoated zinc oxide has some health benefits (anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory effects).
I'm confused, you mention that Devita's sunscreen contains uncoated zinc oxide, but I see capric/caprylic fatty acids listed as an ingredient in Devita's Sunscreen? Although capric/caprylic fatty acids are one of the ingredients manufacturers can use to coat zinc oxide (see question #11), capric/caprylic fatty acids are also used as the fatty base for many natural lotions and creams. Thus the capric/caprylic fatty acids used in Devita's formula are not occlusively coating the zinc oxide particles. In order to qualify as "coated" the zinc particles must be coated in a lab.
I've tried many titanium dioxide/titanium-zinc based sunscreens, they all had a white tint and I still was burned. How are zinc oxide based sunscreens better? The concentration of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide used in a formula is critical to how effective it is against UV radiation. The more zinc a sunscreen formula contains the better it will protect against burns. Zinc oxide concentrations above 15% offer strong UVA & UVB protection (the higher the better). So if you use a sunscreen that contains >15% zinc oxide - it is very unlikley you will get burned (if applied appropriately). Also studies show that micronized zinc oxide has much better protection against UVA radiation than micronized titanium dioxide. Micronized zinc is also less white than titanium dioxide at any given concentration, thus more transparent on the skin.
Do zinc oxide sunscreens leave a white tint on your skin? Depending on your skin color, mineral-based sunscreens can leave a subtle white tint on the skin. Generally, people with light and light-medium complexions do not experience any significant color change once the product is fully absorbed (5-10 minutes). Since the zinc particles are white in color, customers with yellow undertones and darker skin pigment are more likely to notice a white tint than those with lighter pink/cool/neutral complexions. The concentration of zinc used in a sunscreen formula will also impact the degree of whiteness it can cause. Naturally, sunscreens with higher zinc concentration have the potential to cause more white tint. Also, sunscreens that use smaller zinc oxide particles are usually less white than those that use larger zinc particles. When compared to titanium dioxide, zinc oxide based sunscreens are less white than titanium dioxide based sunscreens at any given concentration. We posted our sunscreens with the least amount of white residue below;
Sun Shield Moisturizer (contains a smaller concentration of zinc - so it does not usually leave a white residue)
What is the difference between UV Natural and Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen? Many people ask this question because both products are marketed as "natural" Australian Sunscreens and both have similar EWG ratings. Blue Lizard, however, does not meet our purity standards. As of this writing (11/5/07) Blue Lizard sunscreens contain several different syntehtic preservative agents (such as parabens and diazolidinyl urea). Some Blue Lizard sunscreens also contain chemical sunscreen agents like OCTINOXATE, OCTOCRYLENE, OXYBENZONE. UV Natural, on the other hand, is a much safer and purer product!
What are some sun protecting alternatives to zinc oxide?
Green Tea: Green Tea is a very potent antioxidant that offers excellent protection from UV radiation. Many of our clients prefer to rub PRL's Super Nano Green Tea Liquid Extract directly into their skin and take 1/2 tsp of it orally prior to going out in the sun to help protect against UV damage.
Hydrate & Moisturize: In order for skin to burn, it must first get dehydrated. If you drink plenty of water and keep your skin moisturized with a chemical-free facial moisturizer or body lotion, it can offer some UV protection. Generally speaking - people with healthy well-hydrated and well-moisturized skin are more likely to tan rather than burn.
Limit Exposure: The sun is necessary for all living things, if you don't over do it - it can be a therapeutic experience! Limit direct sunlight exposure to 15-30 minutes at a time. Stay indoors during peak temperatures (usually around noon to 1 pm) and during high UV Index days (see EPA's website for UV Index info).
Wear Protective Clothing: Big sun hands, sun glasses, long sleeved loose cotton clothing with a tight thread weave.
What zinc oxide particle sizes do your sunscreens contain? We try to post the zinc oxide particle size in each product's ingredient list. Some products just say "micronized" or "microfine" zinc oxide which means that the particles are between 100 and 200nm. Nano particles are defined as anything smaller than 100nm. Most of the sunscreens that we carry contain micronized (100-200nm) or regular (>200nm) zinc oxide particle sizes. At this time, we have one sunscreen that contains nano particle zinc called Solar Rx by Keys (~25 nm). Solar Rx is designed for people with a history of melanoma skin cancer. Nano sized particles can block more UV light than larger particle zinc....thus Keys believes it is beneficial for people at high risk for skin cancer And/Or those people who want maximum protection against UV rays (to protect against pre-mature aging).
I have read all of your sunscreen FAQ and am still confused - Is zinc oxide safe? We only offer products we feel are safe. If you are going to be exposed to the sun for extended amounts of time and are at risk of burning - zinc oxide based sunscreens are the safest FDA approved sunscreen on the market. We have other products that have sun protecting qualities (such as Super Nano Green Tea Extract), but they do not offer the ultra high UV protection that zinc oxide can provide. So if you have to be in the sun for extended periods of time - zinc offers the highest protection.
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