Archive for the 'Skin' Category

Sunscreen Update

August 3, 2011

The following is from the 2011 Environmental Working Group report on sunscreen.  It is consistent with my opinion that physical sunblock with titanium or zinc is preferable to the various chemical sunscreens on the market, especially for children and any person with sensitive skin.

“Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors.

The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people use it in the right amount and frequency.

Unsurprisingly, there is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. The major choice in the U.S. is between “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens (zinc and titanium), which often contain micronized- or nano-scale particles of those minerals.

After reviewing the evidence, EWG determined that mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s choices. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. They offer UVA protection, which is sorely lacking in most of today’s sunscreen products. Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) is another good option, but it’s sold in very few formulations. Tinosorb S and M could be great solutions but are not yet available in the U.S. For consumers who don’t like mineral products, we recommend sunscreens with avobenzone (3 percent for the best UVA protection) and without the notorious hormone disruptors oxybenzone or 4-MBC. Scientists have called for parents to avoid using oxybenzone on children due to penetration and toxicity concerns.”

When looking for a sunscreen, look at the active ingredient list and choose a product that contains only titanium and zinc.  The following products are examples of sunblocks that are available with only titanium and/or zinc as the active ingredients:

– Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Sunblock

– Blue Lizard Baby

– Vanicream SPF 60 Sensitive Sunscreen

– California Baby SPF 30 Sunscreen

– Fallene COTZ SPF 58

Note: The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant as specific medical advice for a specific person.   If you have a medical problem, please contact your doctor.

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Sunscreen Update

June 17, 2010

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released its 2010 sunscreen guide.  The EWG is a not for profit environmental organization that specializes in environmental research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public land and corporate accountability.   Among other things, the EWG is working to pass the Kid-Safe Chemical Act which would require that industrial chemicals be safe for infants, kids and other vulnerable groups.  The 2010 sunscreen guide is the 4th such guide the organization has released.  The full report can be found on www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/.

After reviewing the evidence, the EWG determined that of all types of sunscreens on the market today, mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile since they are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. Additionally they offer UVA protection which is often lacking in most of today’s sunscreen products.  Mineral sunscreens are those containing micronized zinc and/or titanium.  See my April 2, 2010 blog post entitled Sunblock For Sensitive Skin for more information on these types of sunscreens. 

An important bit of information the EWG included in their report is a recommendation for children to not use oxybenzone.  There are many products on the market that contain oxybenzone.  Some of those products are specifically marketed for children.  The following is directly from the EWG report: “Scientists have called for parents to avoid using oxybenzone on children due to penetration and toxicity concerns.”

Note: The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant as specific medical advice for a specific person.   If you have a medical problem, please contact your doctor.

Sunblock For Sensitive Skin

April 2, 2010

Many people with atopic dermatitis or eczema have difficulty finding sunscreen that does not irritate their skin.   For those with very sensitive skin I recommend products that contain the sunblocks zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.   Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are both sun blocks, so they do not need to interact with the skin on a chemical basis in order to do the job of protecting against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.   The main downside to these products is the fact that they usually do leave you with a slight whitish hue when applied to the skin.

Look for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in the list of active ingredients.  If there are other active ingredients listed, then the sunscreen you are looking at is not one that contains only zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.  If you have food allergies, it is also important to take a look at the list of inactive ingredients as there might be vegetable, nut or fruit products included.   If you are picking out a sunscreen for an infant or young child you should always get one that does not include food products as introduction of food products through the skin can increase the risk of a child developing food allergies.

The following is a partial list of products that contain only zinc oxide and/or titanium as their active ingredients:

– Blue Lizard Baby

– Vanicream SPF 60 Sensitive Sunscreen

– Fallene COTZ SPF 58

– Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Sunblock

Please remember that if you have atopic dermatitis or eczema, it is extremely important to wash the sunscreen off and moisturize when you get out of the sun at the end of the day.  Sunscreen products tend to dry the skin and going to bed with sunscreen on your skin can lead to extreme dryness in the morning.