Fraud in Sunscreens
Did you know that so much of the sunscreen industry operates dishonestly? It's because of the prolific use of what are called SPF boosters. Never heard of them? Most people haven't. So here's a primer on why mineral sunscreens are the best sunscreen ingredients but you might not be getting pure minerals even if the label says so... Zinc oxide is the best sunscreen agent because it does not get absorbed into the body and it does not get “used up” by the sun. But there is a pretty strict relationship between the SPF achieved per % of zinc oxide in the cream: Every 1% increases the SPF by between 1.5 - 2.5, depending on the exact preparation. The elegant forms of zinc oxide (micronized = small particles, nano = very small particles) are much more expensive than the chemical sunscreens and most of them are patented. Elegant mineral sunscreens (ones that disappear on the skin and do not feel tacky) are 10 times costlier than chemical sunscreen ingredients. Most companies that advertise “mineral sunscreens” include a mix of cheaper chemical sunscreen agents. But, chemical sunscreens are almost all endocrine disruptors and, by definition, must be absorbed into the body to function (that is why they have to be applied 20 minutes before going into the sun). They hang around the body for 48 hours after application. No other drug, other than antacids, is consumed in such high amounts. And chemical sunscreens are topical drugs that are not processed by the liver before traveling to every organ in the body. The other game played by sunscreen companies is the use of “booster” chemicals. Boosters indeed block or absorb ultraviolet light, but they are not approved by the FDA for this purpose and therefore can not be listed on the label as a sunscreen agent. The FDA has a very short list of ingredients that can not be included in skincare preparations, and boosters are not on that list. That allows their use as simply “inactive ingredients”. Companies use this to their advantage, because they can achieve higher SPF values with just “mineral” sunscreens, and can legally claim to be “100% mineral” even though their SPF is largely achieved through the use of chemical boosters. Some commonly available mineral sunscreens advertise their SPF of 60 but list less than 10% mineral sunscreens on the label. This is physically impossible without the use of boosters, because the level of minerals in the sunscreens can only generate an SPF in the low 20s. Dr. Perry's DayThyme SPF 20 sunscreen and our soon to be released SPF 30 SunThymeTM suncreen will be honest as to the ingredients, effective, and aesthetically elegant.