Tag Archives: Tinosorb M

sunscreen launch, summer, zinc oxide, The Sunscreen Company

What You Need to Know from the other Canadian Company Launching Sunscreens this summer

An Interview between Tom Heinar and Sara Dudley, Co-Founders of The Sunscreen Company TM

What You Need to Know from the other Canadian Company Launching Sunscreens this summer

Name: Tom Heinar

Credentials: Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Years in the Business:

39 Years in the Business Total, 36 Years in Cosmetic Formulations

Previous Companies: Estée Lauder, Revlon Canada, Unilever and more plus own private consulting company Cosmetic Formulation Services

Sara: You have been in the business a very long time.  What’s your relationship with The Sunscreen Company TM and why the focus on sunscreens?

Tom: I’ve been with The Sunscreen Company TM since its earliest days in 1995.  My co-founders and I have been working and developing sunscreens so intensively in that time that I’ve made it clear on any other projects that I work on that I would only formulate sunscreens for us as a company.  We’ve developed some really key innovations in sunscreen formulations, one of which is patent pending, and they are only available through here.

Sara: What are some of the innovations?

Tom: We’ve found a way to improve not only the SPF of all mineral formulas but also the UVA protection factor, which is critical to making the best sunscreen possible.

Sara: So you can have a high SPF (SPF 40-50+) in an all mineral sunscreen? Is it a true SPF?

Tom: Yes, you can absolutely have a high SPF in an all mineral sunscreen, i.e. use only inorganic filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  When people say the SPF is fake, they are alluding to the fact that you can game the SPF test by including things like anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories in the formula that take away skin redness but only use low concentrations of the active filters.  The SPF test uses human subjects and a measure of skin redness so if you take away skin redness then you can get an artificially high SPF.  That is commonly done in the industry, however it is not something we would do.  

All of our formulas use high concentrations of zinc oxide, a minimum of 15% but as high as the maximum of 25%.  We do use other minerals like titanium dioxide and some proprietary mixes of others to give a real SPF of 45-50, depending on the specific formula.

Sara: You mentioned a patented innovation. What is it?

Tom: We’ve developed a proprietary dispersion method that makes the minerals we use much more efficient in protecting against both UVA and UVB rays.  It’s an Ecocert certified organic ingredient that holds the active ingredients in uniform suspension so that you get even protection.  Zinc oxide has a tendency to want to clump together so by keeping it in uniform suspension you make it more efficient.  A 15% concentration of zinc oxide then begins to act like a 25% concentration, and a 25% concentration is even better.

In short, we’ve found a way to make the most protective zinc oxide sunscreens- ever.  

Sara: What about the idea that an SPF 30 blocks up to 97% and an SPF 60 only blocks up to around 98%? Is a higher SPF necessary?

Tom: That is true but it’s only part of the story.  In years passed, we have tried to get people to move away from just focusing on SPF because it only really talks about protection against UVB. It missed the critical factor of what the UVA protection was.  

Five years ago, we wanted people to use good high concentration zinc oxide sunscreens in order to get better UVA protection.  A lot of the other, conventional sunscreens were what we called UVB biased, i.e. might have had an SPF 100 but really poor UVA protection.  So we didn’t want people sacrificing their protection against UVA to get a high SPF.

Things have changed now though.  You don’t have to compromise between the two.  You can get excellent UVA protection with high concentration zinc oxide sunscreens and get high UVB/SPFs as well.  When we talk about having next generation sunscreens, that is what we are talking about.

Sara: What are some use cases where people might care about having a higher SPF?

Tom: Certainly for some Canadians mid-winter, who have minimal daily exposure outside- or doing activities like commuting to work, a lower SPF is ok.  However, if you are going to have extended exposure, then a higher SPF is better as long as you are not trading off your UVA protection.  

Sara: Are these sunscreens aesthetic?

Tom: Yes. We’ve always said there is no point formulating a sunscreen that is protective if it doesn’t look good on the skin. It’s not offering any protection if it stays in the bottle so to speak.  People really liked the transparency and matte quality of our previous formulations.  Our next generation of formulas are equally as good.  

Sara: Can you discuss some of the technical innovations in the new Ava Isa SPF 45 line?

Tom: That product was intended to be incredibly matte and dry on the skin to feel weightless.  It’s thixotropic, meaning it seems to be thicker but as soon as you put any pressure on it, say pushing it through the opening of the bottle, it thins out.  When you rub it on the skin, it drys almost instantaneously so you don’t feel any heavy sensation.  That took a considerable amount of work during development to get that texture.

It also includes our patent pending innovation so it’s 15% zinc oxide makes it more protective than our previous 22% zinc oxide (former Simply Zinc SPF 30) in the UVA range by at least 30%.

Sara: What about the upcoming Simply Zinc Ultra SPF 50?

Tom: That formula is a complete revision from its previous version (Simply Zinc SPF 30).  It contains 25% zinc oxide, so the maximum allowed in many countries.  It is very light in texture as well and has close to the same viscosity as water.  It has really light weight vegetable oils from saturated fats like coconut alkanes, and it again dries down on the skin almost instantaneously.  

It also contains our patent pending innovation so to our knowledge and according to our testing, it is one of the most protective zinc oxide sunscreens available, in the world.  

Sara: What is next in sunscreen formulations?

Tom: We always are looking for ways to improve.  We are looking at the impact of blue light and its effect on melasma and photo-aging. We will always look at ways to make zinc oxide even more protective, although I think we’ve gotten as close to perfect as we can with that.

We’ve also developed a formula that mixes a 22% zinc oxide with 9% Tinosorb M and 1% Tinosorb S.  They are incredibly safe and effective filters from Europe that are not allowed in the US.  It’s unfortunate because that is truly as close to a perfect sunscreen as we can get but we are restricted from selling it in North America.  It will change the game when we can sell it though and we are looking for global partners to help us.

We’ve really taken the time to specialize in sunscreens.  We want to live up to our name as The Sunscreen Company TM.  When you do that, the possibilities are endless.

sunscreen, sun burn, sun safety

What is Wrong with Today’s Sunscreens

Why is there panic and confusion in the marketplace?

The recent article from Vancity Buzz with the headline, “Neutrogena is the number one sunscreen to avoid, says the EWG” that we shared on our Facebook page has absolutely gone viral. It was shared over 480,000 times. I didn’t think much of it when I posted it- it’s essentially a reiteration of the EWG’s Annual Sunscreen Report from this past May. It’s also the same complaint that the EWG has been making year after year and it’s one that I agree with for the most part.

neutrogena, toxic, sunscreen

Image from VanCity Buzz Article, Neutrogena is the Number One Sunscreen to Avoid

For the first time a picture of some of the most popular sunscreens in the market appeared in a story with a big red warning sign. I know a lot of parents especially were crestfallen when they saw a brand they had been using on their kids since forever. Before starting work at CyberDERM, I’d used many of those so-called no-no brands my whole life (that is until an aerosol spray version leaked in my purse and took off the paint!). A lot of others were outright mad by the article, claiming it was fear mongering and based on pseudo science.

I thought I’d share my take on the article and a couple of other comments that I’ve seen with similar articles. I’ve been immersed in the world of sunscreens for 7 years now. I’m neither a scientist nor a physician and I’m obviously involved with a competitor’s brand so feel free to take my opinion with as many grains of salt as you see fit.

The deal with ‘chemical’ filters

I always put the term ‘chemical’ in quotation marks because this distinction makes technical people roll their eyes. Technically, everything is a chemical and not all chemicals or synthetics as most people are intending to say are bad for us. Other times, the term physical blocker is used to describe mineral based filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to differentiate from those that are meant to absorb UV light. That distinction is not purely accurate either since many of the mineral filters now do some absorbing and scattering of UV light.

Within our R&D department, we prefer the term particulate-based filters vs. non-particulate based filters. Particulate-based filters include zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, encapsulated filters that are larger than a micron, and Tinosorb S and M. Non-particulate based filters are most of the conventional ones that you would see in mass-market products and include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate, octocrylene, octinoxate (non-encapsulated version).

The EWG is exceptionally critical of oxybenzone. We’d argue that all of these filters have potential issues because they are smaller than the 500 Dalton threshold. Dalton is a measurement of something’s molecular weight and it’s well established that anything below 500 Daltons can enter through the skin into our bloodstream. For many people, they simply don’t want to use something that enters the body if they have the choice.

There is then the issue of whether these filters mimic hormones in our body. The answer is that there is no definitive answer at this point. It would be difficult to create a study that would give a definitive answer so I believe you have to fall back on your personal comfort level of risk. I would say that the argument that only small amounts are ever detected in human studies misses a crucial point. Dosage based arguments for endocrine disruptors don’t hold up since it’s also well established that dosage and effect are not linearly correlated in this regard. In fact, smaller doses of endocrine disruptors can have a disproportionately large effect, sometimes even larger than large doses. The WHO report from 2012 made this quite clear.

sunscreen, sun burn, sun safety

Sunscreens Can Burn You in More Ways than You think

Why would the FDA and Health Canada approve something if it’s not safe?

The FDA and Health Canada have both admitted that they are behind in reviewing the sunscreen monograph. Recently, in the US, the PASS coalition put the FDA in the hot seat for being a decade behind in reviewing submissions. The Sunscreen Innovation Act was passed in late 2014 and the onus was set on the FDA to make some timely decisions. The FDA instead has recently said that the new filters under review require a substantial amount more of clinical data to prove their safety. A part of the issue, they would like exhaustive studies to show that these newer filters are not absorbed into the body or pose any health risks if they are. They dismiss the real market use of these filters in other regulatory territories like the EU as not being sufficient enough.

I take exception with their argument on multiple levels but I also find it frustrating that they are willing to block new ingredients based on this premise, but they are not willing to review current filters by the same criteria. For some unknown reason, current filters seemed to have been grandfathered into acceptance and are past the point of further review- despite mounting evidence.

By blocking some of the safest and least controversial UV filters, like the Tinosorbs (which are very large particulate-based filters), the FDA and Canada are forcing consumers to use filters that aren’t as effective and with iffy safety findings. I also think it’s worth mentioning that the FDA and Health Canada have not put a complete ban on these new ingredients in question. In the US, L’Oreal paid for the very expensive process of getting one of their patented filters approved by the FDA. It’s just restricted for use by one brand for the exclusive use in their La Roche-Posay formula. (Side note- by expensive I mean hundreds of thousands of dollars). In Canada, you can find 9 formulas that contain Tinosorb S and M. These companies again though had to pay for an outside monograph review process (a process that is much cheaper than the US version, costing roughly $50-60 K, about 25-50 times more expensive than the normal approval method) to have formula specific usage of these ingredients. Therefore, it’s not to say that the FDA or Health Canada think these new filters completely unsafe that they can’t come into their respective markets at all- there is just a hefty entrance fee.

Finally, I’ve also seen mention that if a sunscreen has the seal of approval from one of the various dermatology or skin cancer organizations, doesn’t that vouch for their safety. Again, there is an issue with money. Most of these seals cost in the $5000-$10,000 range for licensing fees and the criteria are otherwise relatively lax. When it comes to specific review of UV filters, most concerns deal with whether something is an allergen. While oxybenzone and avobenzone are both considered allergens, they occur infrequently enough that it’s not considered to be a real concern. The idea of endocrine disruption isn’t taken seriously yet by these medical communities. I’ve heard word though that another, potentially quite explosive piece of research about some of these filters is set to be published in a very credible medical journal. We’ll see what it ends up saying and how it’s received in the next couple of months… Yes, that’s what passes for gossip around our offices- we’re the Gossip Girl of sunscreens. Really and truly though, I think it will shake things up so prepare for another bout of panic and confusion.

Thanks as always for staying tuned with us. Will keep you posted.

Best regards,

Sara