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Are spray sunscreens illegal? And other sunblock questions – Episode 175


This is episode 175 and on today’s episode we’re going to cover a news stories we found interesting in the cosmetics industry, and then we’ll answer your beauty questions about:

  • Are sunscreen sprays legal?
  • What is the level of SPF we should use on our face everyday?
  • Why hasn’t the FDA approved the new sunscreen filters available in Europe in Asia like Uvinul and Tinosorb? When can we expect these to be available in the US?
  • Is there A device for use at home that can show you if your spf is applied appropriately. I went to the derm and they had a blue light that showed sun damage beneath the skin surface. It was shocking! (Angela)

Beauty Science News

Does Coconut Oil Dry Out Your Hair?

Allure posted an article in 2017 to explore why some people feel the benefits of coconut oil on hair, while others are left with their hair feeling like straw. Coconut oil is still all the rage for skin and hair – many swear by it in their beauty ritual. But what is it doing on hair?

Coconut oil is actually confusing in the name, as when we think oil, we think a liquid that’s insoluble in water. Coconut oil is actually a liquid above room temperature and a solid below room temperature, yet it’s called an oil.

The temperature at which an oil, fat, or butter starts to solidify is called its titer point. You can identify this visually when it starts to cloud when it is melted and clear. Typically, oils have a titer of below 40.5°C, while fats have a titer above 40.5°C. An easy way to think of that is oils solidify when they are cold, and fats start to solidify when they are warm. Butters have a titer in between 20°C and 40.5°C. All of these formats are chemically composed of triglycerides, with their varying combinations contributing to their titer point.

If we look at different oils, apricot kernel oil as a titer of 0 – 6°C, or 32 – 42.8°F. That’s pretty chilly before it starts to cloud! Coconut Oil has a titer point of 22°C, or 71.6°C when it starts to solidify, and it solidifies quickly. The point is, when one applies apricot kernel oil to the hair, it will likely always stay in liquid oil form when applied to the hair. Conversely, coconut oil starts as a liquid after being rubbed together in our hands and melted, but shortly after being on the hair, the temperature drops before it solidifies into a film on the hair. This can happen quickly, and this is actually what I think contributes a lot to the dry feel of hair.

Coconut oil, in theory, should not leave the hair feeling dried out based on its triglyceride composition – 48% lauric, 18% myristic and 9% palmitic acids, with oleic acid and linoleic acid in smaller portions. These latter are readily used in hair care, so coconut oil itself shouldn’t feel drying. It’s likely the solidification and viscosity difference (looking like lard versus a liquid) that play into coconut oil sitting on the outside of the fiber, solidifying, and thus feeling like a dry, hard layer on the hair.

Spray Sunscreen update

FDA new sunscreen ruling

Before there is a final monograph companies just follow the tentative monographs and sprays weren’t included in this. But in 2018 the FDA issued a new policy that said companies could avoid enforcement of the rules against certain forms if they followed specific guidelines which included

  • 1. Only use a sunscreen actives listed in the monograph & at the approved percentages.
  • 2.  Don’t make disallowed claims like “sunblock”, “sweat proof” or “waterproof” or “all-day” protection.
  • 3. follow all the requirements for OTC drugs like having the right labels & dictions & the reporting of adverse events.

But the rule goes on to state specifically the type of form that will be allowed including oils, lotions, creams, gels…and Sprays.

Interestingly, some of the forms that the FDA still does not allow includes Shampoos, Body washes, Powders, Towelettes, and Wipes.

Now, for sprays the FDA does require manufacturers to have additional labeling. They require specific directions, and a warning which says “do not spray directly into face. Spray on hands then apply to face”

So, even the FDA is telling you that it’s a dumb idea to spray a sunscreen straight into your face. And of course, I’ll stop doing that.

Beauty Questions

Paola asks, “What is the level of SPF we should use for our face everyday?”

The FDA recommends a minimum of SPF 15, or SPF 30 if skin is fair. It’s also important to use a broad spectrum sunscreen. Any sunscreen that is not SPF 15 or broad spectrum has to carry a warning that says, “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.” Valerie personally wears a broad spectrum SPF 30 cream daily, but she has fair skin. Perry uses SPF 30 or 50.

Nicole asks…why hasn’t the FDA approved the new sunscreen filters available in Europe in Asia like Uvinul and Tinosorb? When can we expect these to be available in the US?

The EU has 27 approved sunscreens while the US has only 16.  And of those 16, only 8 are really used. And actually of those 8, only 2 can block UVA. Half of the ones approved in the EU but not in the US also block UVA so it would really open up formulation options for cosmetic chemist if they would get approved.

The reason they are not approved is because the FDA looks at sunscreens as drugs while in the EU sunscreens are considered cosmetics. Drug actives require a lot more safety and efficacy data than cosmetic ingredients.  

President Obama signed the Sunscreen Innovation Act, in November 2014 to help get these things approved more quickly. The law said the FDA was supposed to review applications for eight European sunscreen molecules: amiloxate, bemotrizinol, bisoctrizole, drometrizole trisiloxane, ecamsule, enzacamene, iscotrizinol, and octyl triazone.

Unfortunately, instead of approving the sunscreens, the FDA told the makers of the ingredients that the sunscreens weren’t approved without more testing, specifically for long term exposure to for children and pregnant women. That means for the companies who want to sell the ingredients more expensive and lengthy clinical testing. But the companies are just getting tired of it so it’s unlikely that we’ll see a new sunscreen approved any time soon.

Angela wants to know…Is there A device for use at home that can show you if your spf is applied appropriately. I went to the derm and they had a blue light that showed sun damage beneath the skin surface. It was shocking!

I looked into this and indeed there is a product available for doing just that. There’s a device called Sunscreenr that attaches to your phone and will show you a picture of yourself what you look like under UV light.  The idea is that the darker your skin looks, the more protected it will be.

More practical than this device I think are those colored sunscreens. For example, Coppertone has a Kids Colorblock Disappearing Green Sunblock Spray which goes on one color and goes invisible when it dries.

I looked into how this works and according to a patent granted in 2001 (patent 6290936B1) they use a water-soluble dye or a blend of water-soluble dyes whose color substantially disappears when the sunscreen emulsion dries after it is spread on the skin and/or is rubbed out. That just seems more practical to me.  

However, these types of sunscreens haven’t really had great market success so that shows you what I know about whether a technology will be successful or not.

Beauty Brains wrapup

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