Category Archives: Banana Boat

sunscreen, dangers, oxybenzone,

Sunscreen sprays, burns, dead coral and more: what we’ve heard in the news about sunscreens

blog image July 2016Things We’ve Heard About Sunscreen This Month:

Why is Sunscreen Bad for Coral Reefs?

 It turns out the UV filter Oxybenzone is hard on more than just our bodies, it can be absolutely devastating to the coral reefs that span our oceans. While deeply saddening , it’s not necessarily news. If you recall from our blog post from The Sunscreen Doc, click here to read, there have been signs up in Hawaii telling people to wash off their sunscreen from a long time ago. This photo was taken back in 2006.

Sunscreens Why is Oxybenzone so detrimental to the reefs? Oxybenzone is a photo-toxicant, meaning it’s detrimental effects are triggered by sunlight (making it an odd choice for a sunscreen ingredient). In very small concentrations, Oxybenzone was shown to disrupt the living larval forms of coral by reducing their motility, ossifying their exo-skeleton and causing its DNA to mutate. The overall effect was to exacerbate bleaching of the reef, something that is linked to rising sea temperatures, which is the ultimate death knell for the living organism.

Swimmers (but also all sunscreen users) should look for Oxybenzone free products but can also use sun protective clothing to reduce the amount of sunscreen they have to wear overall.

2nd degree burns on boy after using SPF 50 sunscreen

A mom in the UK posted pics of her son’s 2nd degree burns after spending 5 hours at the beach but after having religiously used sunscreens all day. The family had been using a popular sunscreen spray marketed especially for kids by Banana Boat. While there are multiple versions of the kids spray formula, we have found some versions that make it very clear as to what could have happened.

Banana boat ingredientsThis version shown here, has numerous potential issues with it (including the use of parabens in the non-medicinals). The most obvious issue is that it combines Avobenzone with Octinoxate, which is somewhat of a rookies mistake. It’s a well established fact that octinoxate degrades Avobenzone when exposed to sunlight. The end result is a sunscreen that loses the ability to protect against UVA as the Avobenzone degrades but then also against UVB as the octinoxate begins to deteriorate as well. Click here to read more about this well documented phenomenon. Fortunately, it’s not one that we see very often now so it’s astonishing to find it in a sunscreen for babies.

The fact that this sunscreen was an aerosol spray I believe compounds the problem and you can read more about that in the next section. This sunscreen also is just generally a poor choice due to the potential issue of endocrine disrupting chemicals with Avobenzone, un-encapsulated octinoxate, the varios salates and the parabens included in the non-medicinals. It’s all around a poor sunscreen but it’s all made worse by the fact that it’s marketed towards kids.

Aerosol Sunscreen Might Not be as Safe as you think

Finally, spray sunscreens currently exist in a nether-region in US regulation. The FDA has mandated as of 2011 that they would impose a ban on all spray sunscreens unless manufacturers could prove their safety. Spray sunscreens are still available until such ban is actually enforced but the concerns against their safety center around inhalation risk but also as to efficacy when it comes to applying them sufficiently and uniformly. Anecdotally, before my days of working at CyberDERM, I purchased a can of spray sunscreen and threw it in my purse to have on hand throughout the summer days. Unfortunately, the can leaked and pooled in the bottom off my silver coloured leather bag. After, quasi-melting my phone and I-pod (was back in 2010 and my beloved I-Pod Shuffle was toast!), the sunscreen also had stripped the silver paint of my bag. Most spray sunscreens use alcohol as the main solvent to solubilize their filters, which is how it was able to dissolve paint. It’s unsavoury to imagine that sitting on your skin all day.

December-Blog-Image

Sunscreen Stories

This time of year at CyberDERM, we are always trying to push the message that everyone should be wearing sunscreen, although many of us are currently in the dead of winter.  It’s sometimes a hard sell- it is not on people’s radar as something important.  Hopefully, our pushes to educate people about the presence of UVA all year round and the need to protect your skin will change that. 
Simply Zinc Sun Whip- A Great Sunscreen
Shedding Some Light on What Makes a Good Sunscreen
Of course, then you hear horror stories like the aerosol sunscreen recall this summer that has recently been expanded by Health Canada.  Banana Boat’s aerosol products were linked this summer with users catching on fire due to a flaw in the valve distributing too much product.  This is always a bit of a gray area for us in writing about it- on the one hand we don’t like to bash our competition, that’s not in keeping with our philosophy about being a friendly company to do business with.  At the same time- we got into making sunscreens because of some of the flaws we saw in the products out in the market.  So for this month’s blog- we are going to share some of what we see as problems with sunscreens and how we tried to fix them in our formulas.  If you would like to take what we say with a grain of salt, considering our vested interest, we understand completely and there are no hard feelings!
Our own horror stories:
Like everyone else, I personally appreciate convenience so I will admit to having bought a can of aerosol sunscreen from the pharmacy 3 years ago.  I was going to the beach and I wanted something easy to apply to my legs (for my face, I still always use our products every day so that part is covered).  I kept it in my purse (new Michael Kors silver satchel) until I felt a wet spot on its underside.  It turns out that the cap had come off and sprayed most of the contents of the bottle into my purse. My phone was kaput but that is to be expected.  I was shocked though to see that the sunscreen had completely stripped the paint off of my bag!  I kept thinking this is meant to sit on your skin? Uggh.  Our chemist explained that a lot of the solvents used in these types of products to keep the actives in solution can be pretty heavy duty.  My thoughts though- are they meant to dissolve your skin? We had a client who shared a similar story.  She was an owner of an apple orchard and kept a bottle of spray sunscreen out for pickers to use on her deck.  She noticed though after a while that wooden floorboards of where people would spray their legs was starting to rot away. 
To me- those are cautionary tales.  We always talk about the dangers of chemicals like oxybenzone, parabens, other Dirty Dozen chemicals, and even avobenzone.  Sometimes though, the issues of chemicals being hormone disruptors, or creators of Free Radicals, or even allergens- all seem a bit abstract.  It’s not always clear how those issues affect us- sometimes you literally cannot visualize it until it happens to you in some form.  These stories on the other hand almost poetically drive home the message that you need to be careful about what you apply to your skin.  They make those concepts more real.  You wouldn’t spray paint thinner all over your body and so the idea of not using a product that dissolves metallic paint clicks for me. 
I also do not want to give the idea that it’s just spray sunscreens that are the issue.  Lotions can have similar issues and that is why you really need to take a look at what is in your cosmetics overall.   My litmus test is always- would I recommend this product to a pregnant friend?  We are so vigilant about what we put on our bodies when we think about how it could affect an unborn child.  If we thought that way every day, we would be living on the safe side with nothing to lose.  Without being preachy or accusatory, that is what we try to explain to people and hopefully it will click for more and more people. 
Go through the products in your bathroom and see whether they pass your test! Also feel free to share with us any of your own stories.
All the best,
Sara