Hair, Skin, Nails : Natural Sun Care – Safe Ingredients, Incredible Protection

There is a lot of buzz about the use of Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide in sun protection and skin care products. Let's take this opportunity to discuss the science behind the ingredients and address any concerns the recent chatter has sparked.

Some Definitions

What is Titanium Dioxide (TiO2)1?
  • A naturally derived mineral compound from the earth
  • The “natural” choice for sunscreen because it reflects the sun’s rays, as opposed to a chemical sunscreen that absorbs the sun’s rays for a given amount of time (depending on SPF)
  • Effectively shields the skin against UVB (Burning) and UVA (Aging) waves
  • Adds viscosity, texture and color to various skin care products

What is Zinc Oxide?
  • A naturally derived mineral compound from the earth
  • The only UV filter approved by the FDA to make the claim that it provides full-spectrum coverage across the entire UVB and UVA range
  • Possesses anti-inflammatory and non-irritating properties
  • Available as ZinClear™, a form that offers a smoother appearance
What are UVA (Aging) and UVB (Burning) rays?
  • UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermal layer of the skin and can cause a host of aging effects such as; destruction of collagen and elastin, hyper- or hypo-pigmentation, damaged DNA, photo aging, and may contribute to cancer-causing effects.
  • UVA rays are present all day, every day of the year regardless of weather and can penetrate dense clouds, un-tinted glass and light clothing.
  • UVA rays are approximately 1,000 times more abundant than UVB rays.
  • UVB rays stimulate Melanin in the epidermal layer of the skin that causes the tanning effect, which is the skin protecting itself.
  • UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburns, are linked to squamous cell carcinomas and are related to cataracts.
  • The time period for severe exposure to UVB rays is the middle of a clear summer day between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.

Understanding Nanotechnology Technology

The biggest misconception and concern with Titanium Dioxide is not if it is nanotechnology, but rather the question of whether or not these particle sizes penetrate into the deep layers of the skin. There are different sizes and categories of molecules within nanotechnology. Molecules smaller than 20nm can potentially penetrate the dermis. Larger molecules do not move past the epidermis and reside topically on the skin. All Titanium Dioxide used in sun protection uses a form of nanotechnology.

The Environmental Working Group researched a 15 peer-reviewed study on skin absorption; nearly all showed no absorption of small-scale titanium sunscreen ingredients through healthy skin. In contrast, studies show that certain chemical sunscreens like Oxybenzone and Octinoxate absorb in large amounts into healthy skin. And using nanotechnology for Titanium Dioxide gives it a translucent appearance, so you won’t look like a white-nosed lifeguard.

Types of Sun Screens
Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide reside on the surface of your skin and provide a physical shield to reflect the sun’s ultraviolet rays. These ingredients are safe and nontoxic. Additionally, since they don’t include chemical ingredients; physical sun protectants are reef-safe meaning that they will not contribute to the deterioration of our planet’s precious living coral reef ecosystem.

The chemical-laden sunscreens that contain such ingredients as Homosalate, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone should be avoided. These chemicals may act like estrogens in the body, raising risks for breast cancer, and showing effects like hormone-driven uterine damage in other studies. For their full report please visit

The use of sunscreen chemicals may be increasing the incidence of cancer… It also now appears that many heavily used chemical sunscreens may actually increase cancers by virtue of their free radical generating properties. And more insidiously, many commonly used sunscreen chemicals have strong estrogenic actions that may cause serious problems in sexual development and adult sexual function, and may further increase cancer risks. - Dr. Loren Pickart, P&G Skin Care Research Center

An educated consumer should research these common chemical sunscreens to understand their effects not only on the human body but also the effects on the environment.

Recommended usage include the following protective options to be safer in the sun:
1. Use naturally derived sun protection
2. Wear protective clothing
3. Stay out of the sun, especially during peak hours

1 TiO2 is Non Penetrating – Titanium Dioxide Depots on Skin. TiO2 is an effective broad-spectrum UV filter. Information updated as of March 4, 2011
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