Herbal Bliss is proud to launch Glow! Face Elixir SPF20, handmade by Marie-Veronique, California, U.S.A.* (www.marieveronique.net)
Marie Veronique Skin Therapy products, praised by Kat James in her book, <The Truth About Beauty>, as being the “first intelligent sunscreen to combine high-end treatment,” can make your search for the ideal sunscreen a lot easier. Our sun protection product—Glow! Face Elixir SPF 20 use only nanoparticle-free zinc oxide for full-spectrum protection. Oils of emu and raspberry oil moisturize and replenish the top layer of the epidermis, your environmental protection barrier. These oils also have natural sun protective properties.
No natural sun protection is complete without L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). This must-have for the skin protects against photoaging, assists in the biosynthesis of collagen and inhibits skin pigmentation. When exposed to sunlight, topical Vitamin C products prevent sunburn damage without blocking vitamin D synthesis.
Please read our ingredients list: -
- Organic Camellia sinensis (green and white tea)
- calendula-infused Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba oil)
- Triticum vulgare (wheat germ oil)
- Oryza sativa (rice bran oil)
- Persea gratissima (avocado oil)
- emu oil
- red palm oil
- Limnanthes alba (meadowfoam seed oil)
- Rubus idaeus (red raspberry oil)
- Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn oil)
- zinc oxide
- non-GMO lecithin
- mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E)
- allantoin (from comfrey etc.)
- Panax ginseng
- L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
- natural Vitamin C
- xantham gum
- goji berry extract
- green tea extract
- pau d’arco, quercetin
- lactic acid
- pearl powder
- Aloe barbadensis (aloe gel)
- potassium sorbate
- Essential oils of Rosa rubiginosa (rosehip seed), daucus carota sativa (carrot seed), cistus (rockrose), Rosemary oleoresin, Helichrysum (everlasting)
The following information, written by Marie-Veronique, clarifies a lot of the misconceptions relating to sunscreens/sunblocks, namely:
- difference between UVA, UVB and UVC
- does higher SPF offer higher protection?
- range of protection of common sun protective agents
- Titanium Dioxide – a carcinogen?
- Chemical sunscreens vs Physical sun blocks
ULTRA VIOLET LIGHT
The sun emits light at all different wavelengths, including x rays and radio waves, but 99% of its output is in the form of ultraviolet (UV), visible and infrared (IR) light. Of this 99%, approximately 46% is visible, 49% IR and 5% UV. The UV range is responsible for skin changes and aging.
UV C rays are the shortest, highest energy ultra violet light and are the closest to x rays on the scale (moving left). These are sterilizing rays that kill small organisms and are the most carcinogenic. Sunscreens provide no protection.
UV B rays are the burning rays, which penetrate to the epidermis and are present from 10 AM to 4PM. They are 1000 times stronger than UVA, stimulate melanin biosynthesis, and are linked to squamous cell carcinomas. They cause all the nasty symptoms of sunburn; edema, redness, and itching. They can also contribute to cataracts.
UVA, the long wave, low energy waves, are present from sunrise to sunset, enter the dermis and are 1000 times more prevalent than UVB rays. For low-energy waves they have a long list of inimical effects: they cross-link collagen and elastin, damage DNA, destroy langerhans cells and immune function, turn melanin darker and cause hyper, hypo-pigmentation and broken capillaries.
A good mnemonic is UVA = aging, UVB = burning and UVC = carcinoma
Unfortunately it is not safe to make the assumption that because one is wearing a sunscreen with a high SPF rating one is automatically protected against UVA rays. Remember, an SPF rating refers only to the UVB range. Indeed, the typical sunscreen which contains the most commonly used chemicals does NOT protect against UVA rays. For example, benzophenone -3 protects from 290-360 nm, while octyl methoxycinnimate protects in the 290 to 320 range.
Three ingredients commonly used by sunscreen manufacturers provide protection for the longer UV wave-lengths: Avobenzone, 310-400 nm, Titanium dioxide, 290 to 360 nm, and Zinc oxide, 290-400 nm. Avobenzone looks like a good bet, but unfortunately it degrades after 30 minutes in the sun, so sunscreens including avobenzone as an active ingredient must be applied very frequently if one is to receive adequate protection.
Range of Protection of Common Sun Protective Agents
This leaves zinc oxide, an excellent choice as it is inert, anti-inflammatory and provides superior, full-spectrum protection. However, it has not been popular with the public as it tends to leave a white, greasy film on the skin. Since UVA protection is an everyday affair (this means EVERY day, not just when it’s sunny, but even on those cloudy days when you don’t plan on going outside) sunscreen formulation has become more and more the purlieu of the cosmetic chemist, who is faced with the challenge of formulating a product that is both protective and light enough for people to wear.
Many companies have turned to nanotechnology for a solution. “Micronized” (micronization is a process whereby particles are reduced to 50 microns or less in size, and are referred to as nanoparticles) zinc oxide and titanium dioxide particles are absorbed into the skin, leaving no trace.
In the event that there are potential risks associated with nanoparticle use, Friends of the Earth has recently begun a campaign advising the public to avoid using products that contain them. (1) Their argument is that since the physics of nanoparticles is different we can’t predict their behaviour. They quote a 2004 report by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society, which recommends that “ingredients in the form of nanoparticles should undergo a full safety assessment by the relevant scientific advisory body before they are permitted for use in products.” (2) FOE points out that many companies continue to use nanoparticles, in the absence of independent safety testing, and advise a moratorium on their use until studies can demonstrate their safety.
Companies use nanoparticles for different reasons. Many are using them as delivery systems in anti-aging creams, arguing that nanoparticles will drive other anti-aging ingredients (specifically anti-oxidants) into the dermis where they will promote collagen production and prevent cell damage. FOE points out, and rightly, that if they do indeed drive other ingredients into the skin then the risk of doing damage would correlate to how many harmful ingredients contained in the product are also being carried to the dermis, notably parabens, other preservatives and fragrances. However, as we do not really know whether nanoparticles penetrate intact skin, or whether they act as uptake for other ingredients, it’s at best an academic argument and at worst unduly alarmist. As an anti-aging mechanism nanoparticles show promise, but we are a long way from knowing whether they are creating more damage than they are delivering benefits.
Many companies are adding micronized mineral particles to their sunscreens, and FOE adds a caveat about this practice: “Nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—used in large numbers of cosmetics, sunscreens and personal care products—have been shown to be photoactive, producing free radicals and causing DNA damage to skin cells when exposed to UV light.” (3) This is a large claim, and while perhaps sounding a warning klaxon a bit on the side of shrill, it does underline the crying need for more testing of this new technology.
UVA Protection—What to do?
Aside from the question of whether nanoparticles generate free radicals, there is another problem associated with micronized sun protection products that we can state unequivocally: the smaller the particle, the less effective the UVA protection. This is because mineral sunblocks work differently than chemical sunscreens, which absorb UV rays, lowering energy levels and releasing energy as heat. Mineral sunblocks reflect or scatter energy rays, and for this reason are non-irritating, unlike chemical sunscreens which may irritate skin, especially at higher concentrations. Micronized minerals are not as efficient at the physical process of scattering rays, so the question arises--we may have a product that disappears on the skin that people will wear, but how much protection are they actually getting?
The temporary answer, at least until such time as we know more about the effects of nanoparticles, lies in using a product that contains a high concentration of non-micronized zinc oxide. Nano-ingredients Pose Big Risks in Beauty Products : Friends of the Earth press release, May 16, 2006
Titanium Dioxide--a carcinogen?
Titanium dioxide is regarded as an inert, non-toxic substance by many regulatory bodies such as the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and others charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the health of occupational workers and public health. Yet watchdog groups like the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.com) put titanium dioxide on their list of potential cancer causing substances. As near as I can tell they base their findings on a study showing that rats exposed to titanium dioxide dust develop lung tumors. I quote below from an article, Titanium Dioxide: Toxic or Safe? by Lori Stryker which appears in www.ezinearticles.com
"The NIOSH declaration of carcinogenicity in rats is based on a study by Lee, Trochimowicz & Reinhardt, "Pulmonary Response of Rats Exposed to Titanium Dioxide by Inhalation for Two Years" (1985). The authors of this study found that rats chronically exposed to excessive dust loading of 250 mg/m cubed and impaired clearance mechanisms within the rat, for six hours per day, five days per week for two years, developed slight lung tumours. They also noted that the biological relevance of this data to lung tumours in humans is negligible. It is important to note that rats are known to be an extremely sensitive species for developing tumours in the lungs when overloaded with poorly soluble, low toxicity dust particles. Rat lungs process particles very differently compared to larger mammals such as dogs, primates or humans." (Warheit, 2004).
Risk to humans from titanium dioxide
I'm going to quote again from the same source, as it seems to me author Stryker states the case very succinctly:
"Titanium dioxide is listed as a safe pigment, with no known adverse effects. It is not listed as a carcinogen, mutagen, teratogen, comedogen, toxin or as a trigger for contact dermatitis in any other safety regulatory publications beside the NIOSH (Antczak, 2001; Physical & Theoretical Chemical Laboratory, Oxford University respectively). It is reasonable to conclude then, that titanium dioxide is not a cancer-causing substance and is generally safe for use in foods, drugs, paints and cosmetics. This does not end the debate, however, as controversy over the safety of one unique form of titanium dioxide still exists. One form of mineral or mineral extract, including titanium dioxide, that we should be concerned about is ultrafine or nano particles. As technology has advanced, so has its ability to take normal sized particles of minerals and reduce them to sizes never before imagined. While many are praising this new technology, others are warning of its inherent dangers to our bodies. A study by Churg et. al. at the University of British Columbia in their paper "Induction of Fibrogenic Mediators by Fine and Ultrafine Titanium Dioxide in Rat Tracheal Explants" (1999) found that ultrafine particles of the anatase form of titanium dioxide, which are less than 0.1 microns, are pathogenic or disease causing."
Chemical versus Physical sun blockers
With so much that is known about the risks of chemical sunscreens--they generate free radicals and in addition octyl-metoxycinnimate and benzophenones have been implicated in estrogenicitystudies-I am puzzled by all the attention that has been focused on the harmless-as-far-as-we-know titanium dioxide. A few facts about how chemical sunscreens and physical sunblocks work may help to put it in perspective.
Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and absorbing the radiation. In the process of breaking chemical bonds they release free radicals. About 15% of the population will experience skin irritation from some component found in a typical chemical sunscreen. Physical sunblocks, on the other hand, work by reflecting and/or scattering UV rays and radiation. The following brief list describes how each type of sunscreen performs:
|Avobenzone (Parsol 1789)
|PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)
|Padimate-O (Octyl dimethyl paba)
|Zinc oxide (including transparent)
1: Up to about 360 nm on the UVA spectrum
2: Protects along the full UVA range, up to 400 nm
A look at the list should indicate the superiority of physical sunblocks. In addition, only one chemical agent, avobenzone, is allowed in sunscreens in Europe, Australia and Canada. They use primarily titanium dioxide in their sunscreens—and my guess is that avobenzone is on the allowed list because it in conjunction with titanium dioxide gives you full UVA/UVB protection--at least in theory. In practice avobenzone degrades about thirty minutes after application, hence does not offer very effective protection.
Zinc Oxide--a physical sunblock that works
Zinc oxide emerges as the clear winner in the sunblock wars, and it eludes me why it is not used more frequently. Not only is it the only mineral to provide complete UVB/UVA protection, it is also a wonderful anti-inflammatory and has great healing properties. It is safe for use by people who have rosacea, both because it is anti-inflammatory and because it provides the protection they, more than most, so urgently need.
Mineral sunblocks and Marie Veronique products
I am still sitting on the fence with respect to titanium dioxide. I do not think that the studies currently in existence indicate any cancer risk for humans, with perhaps the exception of micronized titanium dioxide, where particles can be absorbed by the skin. Though even in such cases it is my understanding that titanium, as an inert metal, is not bio-reactive.
However, cancer controversy aside, I do find that I favor zinc oxide over titanium dioxide, simply because of zinc oxide's superior properties with respect to protection and its ability to calm inflammation. With the controversy in mind I have developed a titanium dioxide free day lotion which I now use exclusively. It has emu oil, green tea, red raspberry oil and pearl powder. The result is a very gentle, soothing moisturizing sunblock that is excellent for sensitive skin.
For more discussions of safety issues re cosmetics and skin care products please have a look at the following websites:
Food is the best medicine. Marie-Veronique formulations are based on whole foods, and the freshest ingredients are the most nutrient rich.
Headed by personnel with solid science backgrounds, we use original formulations proven to our satisfaction to be the most effective on the market today.
Preservation is by refrigeration, natural preservatives, UV-resistant bottles, and small batches. No parabens or petroleum products ever!
We use only non-micronized zinc oxide providing full spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection.
Everything is made in small batches to ensure quality and freshness. Being small keeps us accessible, and public availability and accountability are core to our company’s policy.
Despite its size, the Research and Development department does some of the most up-to-the-minute clinical research in the country on such topics as state-of-the-art UVB/UVA protection and the potential risks of nanoparticles in skin care products.
Please note: Marie-Veronique does no animal testing. Some of our ingredients are from animal sources, through we do provide vegetarian alternatives.
10 top and safest sunscreens rated by Environmental Working Group, U.S.A.