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Sunscreen Dynamics and the ‘Reef Safe’ Dance

Contact Author Mark Chandler, ACT Solutions Corp.
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Protection against damaging exposome forces, from pollution and toxins to electromagnetic waves of all lengths, are at the forefront of consumers’ minds; not to mention regulators’. But what happens when a topical solution to one of these forces is at odds with another?

Take organic sunscreens, for example, which provide the highest SPF protection but are flagged over (inconclusive) environmental concerns. As Mark Chandler (MC), president of ACT Solutions Corp., explained in the following adaptation from an interview, it may require rethinking the formula for an entirely new approach.

C&T: Where does sunscreen product development currently stand?

Mark Chandler

MC: Sunscreens are in a dynamic state right now. You have “reef-safe,” you have people worried about organic sunscreens penetrating the skin and getting into the bloodstream, and you have the U.S. Food and Drug Administration saying “show us the data” on all the organic sunscreens while at the same time categorizing inorganic zinc oxide and TiO2 as GRASE. So at the moment, you’re essentially free to move about the cabin with inorganics like zinc oxide but with everything else, you may be in a holding pattern.

If you’re going to continue formulating in the organic sunscreen world, what you’ve had taken away from you are basically two of the coolest toys—octinoxate and oxybenzone—which give you the highest SPF and fill in the middle range, respectively. You take those away and making a high-SPF product is now even more difficult. So if you’re going continue on that route and you’re doing the “reef-safe dance,” look to different emollients, boosters, stabilizers and the formulation itself to get that SPF back up to where you want it to be.

If you instead plan to avoid organics and simply go with inorganics, then the challenge is getting better SPFs with cosmetically elegant products that don’t whiten on the skin. This could mean nano-sized particles (whatever that means)—or perhaps another novel and unexpected way to impart truly broad-spectrum benefits is with a lower-SPF, all-ZnO product that touches the forgotten range of UVA-II.

(For more on this approach, see our “Expert Opinions” collection on Page DM1 of your digital magazine).

Learn more from Mark Chandler at the all-new 2019 Beauty Accelerate. Register today!



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