Monday, April 6, 2015

Are There Nanoparticles in Your Non-Nano Sunblock?


Without potential endocrine-disrupting properties like avobenzone and oxybenzene, and free-radical forming properties like titanium dioxide, plus UVB and UVA protection, zinc oxide is the winning choice when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun.

But there's a problem. Zinc oxide imparts a pasty white hue to your skin when you put it on. Manufacturers wanted to harness the power and reputation of zinc oxide but get rid of the whitish hue. So, they started making zinc oxide in nanoparticle form. These tiny particles could be suspended in a cream and are so small that they go on clear. But, we found out that these tiny particles may not be good for your skin, potentially damaging the DNA within skin cells (source). Because they are such small particles, the theory is that they are able to penetrate the skin further and if light bounces off these particles in to the surrounding cells, damage can occur. (However, other studies have found them not to be harmful.)

The public demand for non-nano zinc oxide is large-however people still don't want to look like they've seen a ghost when wearing sunscreen. So, manufacturers continued to develop products. One was micronized zinc oxide. Particles that are smaller than raw zinc, but not small enough to be called nano. While their small size does help, it still does create a whitish hue on skin. Finally, a company out of Australia came up with truly clear non-nano zinc oxide. But there's a caveat--it contains nanoparticles.

What?

This new clear "non-nano" zinc oxide works like this. They broke down the zinc oxide in to nanoparticles. Then, they glued the nanoparticles together, making the overall particle size large enough to be considered non-nano. Misleading? A bit. Harmful? We don't know yet. Probably safe. The larger particle size would keep the zinc from penetrating the skin deeper, but would the sunlight reflecting off the individual particles be harmful? Preliminary studies by the manufacturer has not shown any harm, however, the long-term safety is yet to be seen.

So, the next time that you use a clear "non-nano" sunscreen, know that it's most likely those glued-together nanoparticles.

My top choice for safe sunscreens has always been, and continues to be Badger. I have been in contact with the formulator in charge of their sunscreens and know personally the care they take when formulating their product. They have the resources and equipment necessary to make sure that the zinc is evenly distributed throughout the formula and they go above and beyond with the testing they put the sunscreens through. You can read more about the zinc they use and even see photos of the glued-together nanoparticle zinc oxide here on their website. Badger is a competitor of ours in some categories, but they really are such a standout company, actually have organic certification, and just do things *right* so I don't mind giving them a little publicity.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

What do you think about Suntegrity Face Sunscreen and the Juice Beauty CC Cream SPF? Does it have the glued nanos you described? I am a dark-skinned person and these are the only tinted sunscreens on the market that don't leave me looking ashy.

Anastasia Smoot said...

Hi Stephanie,
Have you ever looked at the company Suntegrity and their sunblock? How do they compare to Badger?https://www.suntegrityskincare.com/products/suntegrity-natural-moisturizing-face-sunscreen-primer-broad-spectrum-spf-30

Carefully made for all skin types, it is:

- Free of: Parabens, Phthalates, Propylene Glycol, Mineral Oils, Synthetic Dyes, Sulfates, Paba, Titanium Dioxide, Nano-Particles and Chemical UV Absorbers.

- Vegan

- Non-Greasy

- Light, Uplifting Citrus Scent

- Cruelty Free (PETA & Leaping Bunny Cert.)

Size: 1.7 oz / 50 ml

Ingredients:

Active Ingredient: Zinc-Oxide 20%

Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Capric Caprylic Triglycerides (Coconut Oil Extract), Water (Aqua), Sorbitan Stearate (Plant Derived), Glyceryl Stearate (Plant Derived), Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate (Plant Derived), Hexyl Laurate (Plant Derived), Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Seed Oil, Cetyl Dimethicone (Mineral Derived), Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt), Helianthus Annuus (Organic Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cucumis Sativus (Organic Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Astaxanthin (Algae Source), Hyaluronic Acid (Plant Derived), Chlorella Emersonii (Red Algae) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Extract, Punica Granatum (Organic Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Essential Oil, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Essential Oil, Citrus Reticulata Blanco (Tangerine) Essential Oil, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide*, Ethylhexylglycerin*

*paraben-free anti-microbial agent.

I really love the product but as always value your opinion. :)
-Anna

Stephanie Greenwood said...

In my opinion the Badger still beats Suntegrity because it doesn't contain the ethylhexylglycerin, cetyl dimethicone, and other synthetics. Also, grapefruit and tangerine essential oils can accelerate sunburn (phototoxicity) so I don't know why they'd add those to a product intended for use in the sun. Also, with the Badger I know that they're not using the glued-together nanoparticles, whereas with this product we are not sure--might be something to ask them. :)

Anonymous said...

I personally use Badger on myself and my kids. I leave it in the sun for a bit to 'melt', that way it goes on smoother and not as a thick white paste.

Mary Benoit said...

Hi Stephanie,

Mary Benoit here. What are your thoughts on Raw Elements?

Thank You! :)

Anonymous said...

What about Juice Beauty CC Cream (sunscreen included). Here is the

ingredients:

Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 20%

Inactive Ingredients: Juice Beauty proprietary blend of fruit stem cells: apple buds, grape buds & lemon bark. Organic juices of pyrus malus (organic apple juice)*, vitis vinifera (organic white grape juice)*, aloe barbadensis (organic aloe leaf juice)*, cocos nucifera (organic coconut oil)*, caprylic/capric triglyceride, sorbitan stearate, ricinus communis (castor seed oil), polyglyceryl-10 laurate, magnesium sulfate, helianthus annuus (organic sunflower seed oil)*, simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba seed oil)*, tocopherol (Vitamin E), magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (Vitamin C), sodium hyaluronate (vegetable hyaluronic acid), malus sylvestris (apple buds), vitis vinifera (grape buds) & citrus limonum (lemon bark), iron oxides, phenethyl alcohol, ethylhexylglycerin, citrus reticulata (mandarin) & citrus aurantium (petitgrain) pure essential oils.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Juice Beauty--still not as good as the Badger ingredients-wise, and most likely the glued-together nanoparticles, if it goes on clear.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie, I'm allergic to most oils, especially sunflower oil, and most natural skin care products seem to have it as an ingredient. The only oil-free sunscreen on the safer list I found is Burnout brand. What do you think of this brand and do you have any recommendations for someone like me?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

That's a great question. It's likely that the Burnout is using the glued-together zinc oxide if it goes on clear. I'm not crazy about it because of the polysorbate 60 (created with carcinogenic ethylene oxide) and phenoxyethanol (potential endocrine disruptor.)

I'm not aware of any oil-free brands that are also fully safe.

Anonymous said...

I've basically just tried to stay away from the sun and not wear any sunblock... The Burnout brand doesn't to on quite clear - I only have it just in case.. I have issues finding safe products in general because of the allergy. I'd love to use the bubble & bee products (I've tried), but it looks like I need to go oil-free...
-Jamie

Erin Ely said...

I noticed that Badger is using the Australian standard Zinc, which is great. That's why I use Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm, that's our version of sunscreen.

Made in Australia :)

Melisa Smithwick said...

What are your thoughts on Raw Elements?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Oh sorry--missed the question the first time around. From what I can tell, Raw Elements looks like a good choice. I haven't tried it before, though, so I'm not sure if it's truly non-nano. Something maybe to ask them about. :)

Sherry Long said...

What about the brand Thinkbaby? It seems to be easier to apply than Badger.

Sherry Long said...

What about the brand Thinkbaby? It seems to be easier to apply than Badger.

Anonymous said...

What about Ava Anderson sunscreen? Is it equivalent to Badger? Thanks!

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Badger still beats the ThinkBaby. (No cetyl dimethicone.) Plus, if it spreads easier, they are probably using the glued-together nanoparticle form of "non-nano" sunscreen. But, that would be a question to ask them to find out for sure.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,

Neither the Juice Beauty nor the Suntegrity CC Cream goes on clear. They are both tinted sunblocks. I tend to mix it with a face oil or your face cream to make it more transparent and to avoid the ashy look. So I guess neither has nanoparticles.

Here is the ingredients for the Suntegrity CC (different from the Suntegrity Primer another commenter posted)

Ingredients:

Active Ingredient: Zinc-Oxide 20%

Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Capric Caprylic Triglycerides (Coconut Oil Extract), Water (Aqua), Sorbitan Stearate (Plant Derived), Glyceryl Stearate (Plant Derived), Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate (Plant Derived), Hexyl Laurate (Plant Derived), Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Seed Oil, Cetyl Dimethicone (Mineral Derived), Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt), Helianthus Annuus (Organic Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cucumis Sativus (Organic Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Astaxanthin (Algae Source), Hyaluronic Acid (Plant Derived), Chlorella Emersonii (Red Algae) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Extract, Punica Granatum (Organic Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide*, Ethylhexylglycerin*, Iron Oxide.

KP said...

First of all, I LOVE your products! I recommend your company every chance I get.

I make my own sunscreen. Do you have a recommendation for a quality non-nano zinc oxide powder? Does this one look alright? http://www.soapgoods.com/Zinc-Oxide-Powder-USP-p-1431.html If not, do you have another suggestion?

Thanks for your time and help!

Stephanie Greenwood said...

@KP--looks good to me!

Sarah said...

Hi Stephanie,

I came across this sunblock by Herbal Choice that has (seemingly) good ingredients, what do you think? They have both a tinted and untinted version, here are the ingredients:

Herbal Choice Mari UNSCENTED Face & Body Lotion (no tint): Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide (77947) 20.5% (natural earth mineral. Largest particle size used/ non-nano particles). Other Ingredients: Organic olive oil, purified water, wild harvested candelilla wax (plant based), potassium carbonate (natural earth mineral)*, organic jojoba oil.

TINTED Face & Body Lotion (light ivory / medium beige / dark honey): Active ingredient: Zinc oxide (77947) 20.5% (natural earth mineral. Largest particle size used/ non-nano particles). Other ingredients: Organic olive oil, purified water, wild harvested candelilla wax (plant based), organic lavender oil, potassium carbonate (natural earth mineral)*, organic jojoba oil, organic sweet orange oil, organic burdock root. May also contain: Natural earth mineral iron oxide (77491, 77492, 77489). * Not present in final product, dissipates during manufacture.

Thank you for all your valuable information on your blog. I've been going through tons of your posts as I just discovered it today!


Stephanie Greenwood said...

@Sarah--we're so glad you found us!

My concern with these would be exactly how the product is preserved. I see water listed but no apparent preservative. These may also separate as there doesn't seem to be an emulsifier listed either.

sea89 said...

Thank you for your reply, Stephanie! Believe it or not, I learned so much from your blog in such a short time that I anticipated your reply regarding there not being a preservative. :D The emulsifier however, I did not know!
On that note, does that mean that anything that I attempt on my own that includes water (for example, mixing Dr. Bronner's with water as a hand soap), would need a preservative as well?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Oh haha, I'm glad to hear it! Dr. Bronner's plus water should be ok for a couple weeks because of the alkalinity of the soap. But putting in a little organic alcohol can always help to be safe. And yes, most things with water will need a preservative. :)

Anonymous said...

Do you recommend badger for children as well? I was looking at California Baby or Babyganics.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Yes I do recommend Badger for children as well. :)

Anonymous said...

I really like the Herbal Choice Mari, but I agree it seems to lack a preservative and you have to shake it well because it does separate. That said, isn't the candelilla wax an emulsifier? Just curious. Thanks!