2 Ingredients to look for when buying sunscreen for children

by sue ingram
(South Africa)

This article was published with some great comments from a Dr Torres, on ABC Action News.

She said "The only ingredients that should be there are Titanium Dioxide and or Zinc Oxide."

Here's why Dr. Torres said it's critical:

"Those are just physical blockers they are not chemicals. Those block the sunlight by their physical properties. So the possibility of it being absorbed and being dangerous to a child is minimum," said Dr. Torres.

What and what not to put on your child can be confusing. But, Dr. Torres said soon parents will have an easier time navigating through all the products. By 2013, the FDA has mandated more clear labeling. The process is already under way.

In the meantime, she warns, "That a lot of sunscreen marketed for baby may have chemical sunscreens. So again, I really want to stress actually looking at the label and reading the ingredients."

Comments for 2 Ingredients to look for when buying sunscreen for children

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Jul 14, 2012
Safe and effective sunscreens for all users
by: Denis K. Dudley MD

We laud your efforts to highlight the safety of inorganic sunsreen ingredients that form a barrier on the skin with no penetration beyond the stratum corneum or dead outer layer.

For all sunscreens the simple concept should be to use a balanced broad spectrum ingredient(s) that have no percutaneous absorption and attain any tissue levels, that have zero risk of photocontact allergy (although this risk is exceedingly small at < 1%), and is not associated with any risk or controversy for hormone disruption or other toxic effects on humans or the environment.

Your advice should read "zinc oxide and or titanium dioxide" and not the other way around. Zinc oxide has a flat extinction curve that shows both UVA and UVB attenuation approaching 400nm. Titanium dioxide shows more attenuation of UVB and some UVA1 protection but has less activity within the long wave UVA1 band between 340-400nm. Therefore zinc oxide can be used alone for broad spectrum coverage but titanium dioxide requires some other agent with UVA1 attenuation for balanced coverage.

Compliance is driven by aesthetic. Barrier sunscreens are typically white, pasty and "icky". This one fact tends to limit their popularity. Titanium dioxide has a higher refractive index than zinc oxide and tends to be whiter on skin. It is more difficult to formulate titanium into a clear product. New micronized forms of zinc oxide can be made into a clear or transparent film. This type of zinc oxide sunscreen will gain wide acceptance, particularly as it is a safer and more effective sunscreen.

Finally, these ingredients are not only safer for children, but for pregnant women, and indeed any adult.

Jul 17, 2012
reply to Denis K. Dudley MD
by: Sue Ingram

Excellent points made about Titanium Dioxide and the preference for choosing Zinc Oxide.

Also very valid observation about being applicable to pregnant women as well as children and of course ultimately all adults!

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