I’m amazed at the number of brands and home hobbyists trying to make a buck on alternative and all-natural sunscreens these days. A lot of this is fuelled by customers who are afraid of chemicals like parabens and phthalates, and their quest to find products without them. It’s understandable. People do not want to use things that are harmful or hazardous. And yes, sunscreen safety is important. In fact, relying on amateur produced sunscreen safety may put you more at risk than whatever potential dangers people think lurk in sunscreen chemicals.
At Indochine Natural we are better equipped than most in producing skincare. Our production facility is certified for Good Manufacturing Practice. This means we are rigorously inspected to ensure our products are safe. Plus, we have two in-house laboratories for product safety testing. And another factor when formulating sunscreen is the need to use a preservative. This is an added complication. The formulation must be Challenge Tested. And preservative systems are not always 100% effective.
For these reasons, I would never consider formulating sunscreen. But, out there you can find many who do. Into The Gloss, the beauty blog that launched the massive indie beauty brand Glossier has a recipe for homemade sunscreen comprising shea butter, zinc oxide powder, coconut oil, and other oils. (The author is now the executive fashion news editor at British Vogue). The health website Dr. Axe warns that “conventional sunscreen can be full of harmful chemicals and toxins” and that their recipe for homemade sunscreen not only protects the skin from getting “burnt,” but also “nourishes and hydrates your skin with essential vitamins and nutrients.” And the popular wellness blog Wellness Mama claims that “lack of sun exposure is a much bigger problem than too much sun exposure” and advises readers to make their own sunscreen from, again, zinc oxide, coconut oil, olive oil, beeswax, and other ingredients. We are concerned about sunscreen safety.
As a scientist, I understand that protecting your skin from both UVA and UVB rays is a precise science. The testing for efficacy and effectiveness is rigorous, and well beyond what our labs can manage.
Additionally, there are some questions about the side effects. For example, recent studies have shown that some ingredients have been found in users blood samples. But, sunscreen skepticism is a cause of concern for dermatologists and public health officials. The challenge is to curb rising rates of skin cancer Western countries. And at the same time, maintain sunscreen safety.
The mandate for Indochine Natural is to produce skin care using only natural plant ingredients harvested by human labour. By its nature, sunscreen is well outside this mandate.
Our advice. Limited use of conventional sunscreens. Cover up with a hat, use an umbrella. At all costs, avoid alternative and all-natural sunscreens. It’s just not worth the risk.
Dr. Mike Thair
Indochine Natural Sdn Bhd
Photo credit: Jean Philippe Delberghe