“As a millennial, I can fairly say the majority of our generation and beyond remains largely uninformed when it comes to sun protection. We welcome the sun. We don’t see the point of shielding ourselves from it, are grossly unconcerned with the health risks associated with sun damage, and maybe choose not to bother with sunscreen altogether due to poor user experiences we’ve had in the past that have turned us off completely (white filmy residue, anyone?). If we do recognize and subscribe to its value, the amount of information we have to digest just to pick the perfect product can be overwhelming.” – Nani Dominguez, 30
This is the perspective many end-users of beauty and skin care products have today about wearing sunscreen. As a leading expert in the Research & Development and Product Manufacturing fields, Allure Labs is here to share some basic SPF education, and turnkey solutions for brands looking to find premier, customized blends and formulations.
The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of SPF products:
1. Physical (or Mineral) Sunscreens
Physical sunscreen provides protection from the sun by sitting on top of the skin and deflecting UV rays. Since they typically contain more naturally-derived ingredients, their consistency is drier than other emulsions due to the blend’s simple structure. Unfortunately, this means it can also be harder to apply (thus leaving that filmy white residue Nani mentioned earlier). Nonetheless, it offers immediate protection upon application and a healthier alternative for both your skin and the environment.
2. Chemical Sunscreens
Unlike physical/mineral sunscreens, chemical SPF products contain multiple active ingredients that serve other skincare purposes (i.e. hydration, cell repair, anti-aging, acne treatment, etc.). If you have historically sensitive or reactive skin, a chemical sunscreen might be too harsh. Rather than sitting on top of the skin to protect it, chemical sunscreens work by turning UV rays into heat that expels itself from the skin. Due to a more complex ingredient structure, their emulsions feel more luxurious and are designed for a satisfactory end-user experience.
Let’s revisit the notorious white film issue one more time. That’s one example of the kind of problems you *won’t* run into with a chemical sunscreen. Because it contains other purposeful active ingredients, chemical SPF is known to be more user-friendly and leaves the skin’s texture nice and smooth. However, an important point to note about chemical sunscreen is that it takes 20-30 minutes post-application to fully activate.
The skincare industry trends and environment are ever-evolving, as is the argument of which sunscreen option is ‘better’ – chemical or physical. If using products that are organic, sustainable or naturally-derived is important to you, a physical (mineral) sunscreen might be the right fit. If you have other skin concerns you need to address in conjunction with sun protection, chemical SPF might be your best bet. In February of 2019, the FDA proposed a new rule calling for updated regulations on 12 ingredients commonly found in chemical sunscreens, which hasn’t yet concluded.
Recently, whether sunscreen products are considered “reef-safe” or not is the hot topic of conversation. Some argue these two main ingredients which are commonly found in chemical sunscreens – oxybenzone and octinoxate – are harmful to marine life because they contribute to coral bleaching, and are therefore responsible for starving the aquatic ecosystem that depends on them. Even states like Hawai’i and the city of Key West, Florida have banned the sale of SPF products that contain these ingredients. However, that doesn’t give a free pass to just any and every physical (mineral) sunscreen. In 2014, studies found that titanium dioxide, commonly found in physical SPF, when in water, produces hydrogen peroxide – which is extremely harmful to coral reefs.
It’s important to note that “reef-safe” is not a term with an industry-standard meaning, nor is it regulated by the FDA. If you’re concerned about the ingredients in your SPF being not only nontoxic for you, but for aquatic life, try to avoid sunscreens that:
- Contain petrolatum, otherwise known as mineral oil. It takes years to biodegrade, and is known to be fatal to aquatic life.
- Contain a high amount of titanium dioxide. As mentioned earlier, this mineral reacts in water to form hydrogen peroxide – also proven harmful to all sea life.
- The ingredients we talked about which are commonly found in many chemical sunscreens – oxybenzone and octinoxate.
According to Dr. Harvey, Piedmont dermatologist and Mohs surgeon, regardless of the chemical vs. physical consideration, there are a few other things to take note of when it comes to choosing the perfect SPF:
- Is it ‘broad spectrum’? Broad spectrum means it protects against both types of sun rays – UVA and UVB.
- Is it fragrance-free? Added fragrances are common irritants in many skincare products, and oftentimes unnecessary in providing added purpose.
- Is it non-comedogenic? Meaning, it won’t clog your pores.
- Is it oil-free? Like fragrance, oil is another common irritant in skin care products that doesn’t have much to offer.
- Does it contain parabens? Parabens are artificial preservatives added to products in an effort to prolong their shelf life.
- Is it SPF 30 or above? No sunscreen will give you 100% protection, but SPF 30 will get you as close as 96.7% covered, and SPF 50 will get you closer to 98%.
Determined to find the best SPF, according to your standards?
Product manufacturers such as Allure Labs work with beauty and skincare brands every day to create custom formulations that serve clients’ niche markets. Allure’s specialty in designing high-end skin care products can be proven by its track record of over 7,000 satisfied clients to date. From Research & Development to the filling & manufacturing stages, Allure Labs offers a long-term solution to corporations and individuals looking to scale their business for mass market.
is seasoned in composing the best quality SPF blends to ensure your brand’s specific needs.
Fill out a contact form on our website to learn more about our client process today.
This article is authored and approved by Sam Dhatt.