ASCP Skin Deep


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Listen to the ASCP Esty Talk podcast at 33 TYPES OF SUN PROTECTION The FDA is proposing that two ingredients are "generally recognized as safe and effective" (GRASE). These ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The FDA proposes that two other ingredients, PABA and trolamine salicylate, are not GRASE. Not to worry. You won't find either of these ingredients in sunscreen legally sold in the US. 2 Micronized vs. Nano When sunscreens are made with nanoparticles, they turn clear, which makes them user friendly. But products made with nano materials also raise largely unanswered safety questions, such as whether the particles that make them effective can be absorbed into the bloodstream and are toxic to living cells. However, micronized particles cannot penetrate the skin. 3 ZinClear-IM—a trademarked zinc ingredient manufactured by Antaria—is micronized and is not caught up in the nano debate. Powder vs. Liquid SPF User error is a big factor in applying enough powder sunscreen, as the skin's surface is not smooth. For good coverage, clients need to adequately rub sunscreen in. Inhalation of loose powder, especially those containing talc, is problematic. Minerals like zinc oxide and titanium have been found to be safe when applied topically on the skin, but inhaling them is a different matter. 4 What's the Deal with the Reef ? Hawaii is the first state in the US to ban the sale of sunscreen containing the coral-harming chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate (believed to contribute to coral bleaching), ushering in a new era of reef-safe sunscreen. When coral bleaches, it is not dead, but is under significant stress and subject to increased mortality levels. The new law went into effect January 1, 2021, and many visitors and residents have already been changing their reef-unsafe sun protection. Also avoid sunscreens containing petrolatum, commonly known as mineral oil. Petrolatum takes years to biodegrade and is known to be harmful or fatal to aquatic life and waterfowl. Sunscreens with high content of titanium dioxide should be avoided, as well. This mineral does not biodegrade and is found to react in warm seawater to form hydrogen peroxide, which is harmful to all sea life. 5 Is There Such a Thing as SPF 100? At some point around the early 2000s, brands started to one-up each other by putting out sunscreens with higher and higher SPFs, until we reached 100. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) in late 2017 seemed to confirm that we should all be buying the highest SPF possible by concluding SPF 100+ was more protective against sunburn than SPF 50. Then, in 2019, another study published in JAAD produced similar results when tested in a beach vacation setting, showing that SPF 100 was more protective against sunburn than SPF 50. Still, some experts argue that SPF 100 sunscreens only offer a marginally higher level of protection than SPF 50—specifically, SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UV rays, while SPF 100 blocks 99 percent. Not only that, but a high SPF sunscreen can give a false sense of security, which might lead to not reapplying sunscreen as often as necessary. For those who are particularly prone to sunburns, getting a sunscreen with SPF 100 might be worth it. However, according to the major health authorities, most of us will do just fine with SPF 30 and above. Regardless of the SPF chosen, it still needs to be reapplied every two hours. 6 IN SUMMARY SPF can be confusing for the consumer, and we, as estheticians, need to be able to talk about SPF ratings and factors. We believe physical protectants to be superior to chemical sunscreens, as they lie on the surface of the skin and cannot penetrate into the bloodstream. The goal should be to have our clients find the SPF they enjoy and will commit to using every day to promote skin health. Notes 1. US Food & Drug Administration, "Sunscreen: How to Help Protect Your Skin from the Sun," last updated August 29, 2019, over-counter-medicines/sunscreen-how-help-protect-your-skin-sun. 2. Consumer Reports, "What Does SPF Stand For? " May 15, 2015, www. 3. Julie Deardorff,, "Nanoparticles: Big Potential or Big Threat? " July 11, 2012, 4. Lisa Bensley,, "How to Choose Between a Liquid, Powder or Spray Sunscreen," September 5, 2017, 05/different-sunscreen-types. 5. Karen Rose,, "Your Reef Safe Sunscreen Guide—15 Sunscreens that are Reef Safe," accessed May 2021,

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