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Sunscreen shaming and other news Episode 85

Have you heard about sunscreen shaming?one_pissed_off_sun_by_spiketheklown-d4f5by9

I didn’t either but this is a real thing. There’s an entire discussion thread on the popular site Reddit dedicated to the phenomena.

Apparently, not everyone is accepting of the idea that you should wear sunscreen to prevent getting tan. In this article there were a number of instances in which people were mocked because they were using sunscreen. They say it was even worse if they were using sunscreen on a cloudy day. Have you ever been mocked for wearing sunscreen?

People must not realize that tan skin is damaged skin or that you can still get sun damage even when it’s cloudy outside.

Here are a couple of the amusing replies from the Reddit discussion board to people who try shaming you for wearing sunscreen.

1. If you’re wearing sunscreen on a cloudy day and someone says something to you just reply “the sun is still only three planets away”

2. When someone says “don’t you want to stop being so pasty?” reply “No, actually I’d rather not get skin cancer”

Remember, pale skin is healthy skin. Tanned skin is damaged skin.

Surprisingly natural baldness cure

This is research published in the Journal Cell by a stem cell researcher at the University of Southern California who found out that…If you pluck 200 here’s in a specific pattern 1200 hairs will grow in their place. That’s a sixfold increase. I guess it’s a fivefold net increase because you lose 200 but anyway you get the idea.I believe to date this research has only been going on mice but it certainly seems that it could easily be done on humans as well.

The theoretical mechanism involves the idea that plucking that here’s causes the release of anti-inflammatory compounds as a reaction to that trauma in those anti-inflammatory compounds then help stimulate hair growth in adjacent follicles.

The pattern is a bit perplexing…When plucking the hairs in a low-density pattern from an area exceeding six millimeters in diameter, no hairs regenerated. However, higher-density plucking from circular areas with diameters between three and five millimeters triggered the regeneration of between 450 and 1,300 hairs, including ones outside of the plucked region.

If further research really proves that this works it will be interesting to see how it might translate in the marketplace. Is this a procedure the dermatologists would charge you to do? Or could there be some sort of at home kit version like I could imagine a template that you put on your head and pull your hair through and then you pull out that hairs that are marked on the templates or something like that.

Would you get a shot to get rid of fat?

I think one of the reasons people believe in pseudoscienctifc beauty products is they’re so much more convienent and cheaper than alternatives like plastic surgery. I mean if you have cellulite or puffy eyes or a double chin, sure I’ll spend $50 on this cream but I’m not going to have painful, expensive surgery.

Well good news for those people because The Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee recommended this week that a new drug called Kybella— a deoxycholic acid (DCA) injection — be approved by the FDA. When injected, DCA breaks down fat cell membranes present in the classic double chin.

Why is L’Oreal printing human skin?

Why is L’Oreal printing human skin? It sounds a little sinister when you ask that question out of context but here’s the deal. 3-D printed human skin is printed on sort of the scaffolding from human skin cells has been a real thing for a little while ago. The new news is that Loriell is teaming up with this company Organovo and the article I saw I was wondering what benefit there would be to Loriell. Organovo has already made headlines with claims that it can 3D-print a human liver but this is its first tie-up with the cosmetics industry.
One of the dermatologists who was interviewed said “I can understand why you would do it for severe burns or trauma but I have no idea what the cosmetic industry will do with it,” I think the quick answer is Loriell is probably trying to use it to help in there toxicological studies. Or perhaps to measure efficacy in reducing transepidermal water loss or elasticity or other such measures. You can imagine how this could help with that.
But certainly you can imagine some long-term goal for the use of printed skin to help somehow cover up or high or regenerate or something skin defects. That kind of application is a bit far-fetched but I certainly a plug them if that’s their far ranging vision.

Alcohol is not drying to skin.

I recently received an email asking me about why a company would include alcohol (denatured) in their skin care formulas. They were under the impression that alcohol caused skin irritation. They are not the only ones as the folks at Paula’s Choice list alcohol as a skin irritant. I had heard this same claim over the years but I’ve also heard the opposite, alcohol does not cause irritation. So I looked into it further.

In 2007, there was research published in the British Journal of Dermatology which looked at the questions “How irritant is alcohol?” In the study they did patch testing with anywhere from 60-100% alcohol and compared it to both a positive control (SLS) and a negative control (water).

Their conclusion – Alcohol did not cause skin irritation.

Alcohol-based hand rubs cause less skin irritation than hand washing and are therefore preferred for hand hygiene from the dermatological point of view. An alcohol-based hand rub may even decrease rather than increase skin irritation after a hand wash due to a mechanical partial elimination of the detergent.

This was a small study (only 15 people) but if there was a positive result you could have much more confidence that alcohol was an irritant.

Then I found this chapter in the book Infection Control Updates entitled “Skin Irritation Caused by Alcohol Based Hand Rubs.” This is really an excellent reference resource as it goes through the biology of skin and the causes of irritation. But when they looked at alcohol specifically couldn’t find any support for the notion that alcohol caused skin irritation.

The Lancet even recommends using alcohol hand sanitizers.

So, based on the evidence that I could find you should have no problem including denatured alcohol in your topical skin care formulation (at least in regards to skin irritation).

Water based beauty products are a trend

Here’s an interesting “trend” in skin care….water based products. The market has recently been flooded with products touting the different kind of water they are based on. There are cleansing waters, or micellar waters, that are big in France.

Then there are water based sleeping masks. Nitrogen has a Hydroboost water gel.

The idea is that the water is quick absorbing and less harsh.

It sounds like the idea to me is that some marketer just learned a different way to talk about the same old products. Probably, 80% of skin products are “water based”. It might be even higher. This is totally marketing hype and there is nothing special about the type of water that these products are using.

Image credit: http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2011/309/5/8/one_pissed_off_sun_by_spiketheklown-d4f5by9.jpg

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • shelly June 2, 2015, 1:30 am

    “Remember, pale skin is healthy skin. Tanned skin is damaged skin.”

    The first sentence can be construed as racist/white supremacist (implication that those with naturally darker skin are born damaged), and I know this isn’t what you were going for when you wrote that. Better to say, “Your natural skin is healthy skin. Skin tanned by the sun or via tanning bed is damaged skin.”

    • Randy Schueller June 2, 2015, 7:35 am

      Thanks for the clarification, Shelly. I guess another way to put it is “For caucasians, pale skin is healthy skin.”

      • Sarah June 2, 2015, 8:10 am

        I’m still offended by this. I tan through spf 70 no matter how frequently it’s applied. I tan through my bathing suit. I’ve talked to my derm about it and he says there’s no reason for me to be worried so long as I’m wearing sunblock. I’ve been applying sunblock to my face daily since I was 23, even in the winter. He also accuses me of lying about my age (I’m 36 but people usually think I’m in my early to mid 20’s).
        I’ve been wearing spf 50 every time I’ve been in the sun so far this year. I still have tan lines from my bathing suit. I think I’ve been out in the sun in my bathing suit a total of 5 hours so far this summer, cumulatively.
        Blanket statements like this lead strangers to come up to me at Costco and tell me I’m going to get cancer.

        • Randy Schueller June 2, 2015, 10:35 am

          Hi Sarah. I’m confused – what exactly are you offended by?

        • Fiona June 9, 2015, 9:45 pm

          Try Lycopene. I saw a serious study from Manchester University focusing on people like you (and me) who either tan through sunscreen or just always burn. Lycopene is from tomatoes. You can buy it in capsule form. The study was done by using a laser to burn one area on the buttocks ( as never exposed to sun) and then after 30 days lycopene do the other buttock. Showed reduction in burn between 11 and 30 %. I started taing it myself and it really works.

          • Randy Schueller June 10, 2015, 6:55 am

            That’s a really strange study design since lasers aren’t typically used for sunscreen studies. Do you happen to have a link to it?

        • James August 24, 2015, 1:13 pm

          You seem like someone who gets offended by a lot of things…..

    • Perry Romanowski June 2, 2015, 11:31 am

      Sorry for the unfortunate phrasing. No offense was meant. Your phrasing is better.

    • Eileen June 2, 2015, 10:05 pm

      Tanned skin is not the same thing as naturally darker skin and saying that tanned skin is damaged is not the same thing as saying someone’s naturally darker skin is damaged. That’s faulty reasoning and so I’m not sure where that “racist/white supremacist” comment is coming from. The fact of the matter is that no matter how light or dark your natural skin tone is, if you are exposing your skin to the sun so that the color deepens (tans), you are damaging your skin. Perhaps it would have been better to simply say that whatever your skin tone, if you’re tanning, you’re damaging your skin.

      • Randy Schueller June 3, 2015, 6:27 am

        Good clarification Eileen, thanks.

      • Tendai July 18, 2015, 3:28 pm

        Read her comment again. She said the first sentence can be construed as racist/white supremacist. The first line in her quote was “Remember, pale skin is healthy skin.” That rubbed me the wrong way too.

        The author when writing this blog post was thinking about their own skin tone and that is natural to do. But he left out other readers with different skin colors. I’m glad it was clarified and I wasn’t left to make my own conclusions about their intended meaning.

  • Tona Aspsusa June 2, 2015, 1:53 am

    Nice show again!

    I’m surprised, but then again not, about the non-irritancy of alcohol. The reason alcohol has been thought of as irritating is probably that it is drying, and people with very dry skin seem to be more prone to irritation anyway, so drying out their skin a bit more probably makes this tendency even worse.
    But then I’m not that surprised because I’ve been using hand-sanitizer as deodorant for 5+ years now, and have been a bit surprised at how non-irritating it is. All hand-sanitizers are not equal when it comes to this use, some are more effective than others (probably a highly individual thing; personal skin-fauna combined with other ingredients in the gel), but I’ve been surprised at how skin-friendly alcoholgel is in daily use on the body. Or maybe I should just be surprised that I was right in my thinking when I initially thought to try it: I didn’t want a scent, and I figured high alcohol content + developed for use on hands multiple times a day (healthcare people) would mean minimum of irritating ingredients, and maybe even something to counteract the drying effect of the alcohol.

  • Little Tabby June 3, 2015, 6:44 am

    I’ve been wearing SPF 30+ every day including winter (until about 2 years ago this was the highest SPF you could get in Australia) and no matter what I did I still tan just by normal daily exposure.
    I still need some sun exposure for Vitamin D but no matter what I wear I still tan (less with sunscreen – and I wouldn’t leave the house without it even in our Winter ( the sun is strong here all year round).

    I’m of mixed European heritage (southern European & Slavic – 3/8 ths respectively and 1/8 th northern European and Assyrian) so the Southern European/Assyrian is the dominant blood and this reflects on my skin tanning no matter what sunscreen I wear.

    • Perry Romanowski June 3, 2015, 9:43 am

      If you aren’t wearing a sunscreen with UVA blocking then it makes sense that you would still tan even while wearing sunscreen. Not all sunscreens block UVA rays.

    • Randy Schueller June 3, 2015, 2:12 pm

      How often did you reapply sunscreen?

    • Eileen June 3, 2015, 3:25 pm

      I’d also like to add that clothing is a very poor sunscreen unless it has been specially treated. Most clothing only offers SPF 2-4 and yet most people don’t bother with it in areas that are covered by their clothes.

      • Lizzy June 19, 2015, 8:33 am

        Eileen, your statement about the low sun protection of clothing surprises me a lot. In my experience, when I wear sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) on my arms and don’t wear any below my t-shirt, I still tan a bit on my arms but not below my shirt. When I was a teenager (and not as aware of sun damage as today) I even bought a tan through bikini but it didn’t work and I didn’t tan below it…
        I’m really interested about the sun protection of clothes. I don’t like the feel of sunscreen, so I try to cover most of my body with clothes to minimize the areas where I have to use sunscreen.

  • LittleTabby June 3, 2015, 4:52 pm

    The sunscreen I use is broad-spectrum (screens out both UVA and UVB rays) – I don’t think a product labeled as sunscreen in Australia can be non broad-spectrum. I apply it in the morning and again at lunch time if I’m leaving the office for a walk. Question: even if I leave the office at lunch time (I don’t sit near the windows) do I still need to reapply every 2 hours ?

    • Randy Schueller June 5, 2015, 7:35 am

      UV absorbers get “used up” over time. If you’re in direct sunlight, a good coating will last about 2 hours. With less sun exposure it’s reasonable to assume they’ll last longer but I’ve never seen any data on how long they last with just indoor lighting.

      • LittleTabby June 6, 2015, 5:49 pm

        Thanks for that information, to be safe I reapply the sunscreen before lunch time as I usually go walking near the water.

  • Philip June 3, 2015, 4:57 pm

    Did you guys check the research Paulas Choice refers to on alcohol in skincare? Some of that research is more recent (2012) than what you referred to.

    They have an in depth article on alcohol on their site which cites multiple studies and not just alcohols potential for irritation, but also in other ways it can hurt the skin.


    • Randy Schueller June 5, 2015, 7:31 am

      We did look at this Phillip. The studies she cited don’t seem to singularly point to alcohol as a problem, though. One study talked more about detergents being the problem and another just showed that alcohol shouldn’t be used to disinfect open wounds.

      • MsTindigo June 8, 2015, 6:34 am

        Dear Randy, I am totally agree what you wrote about how important sunscreen is. But I was very suprised what you wrote about SD alcohol. My skin on face was very oily, and alcohol based toners make it very dry and very irritated. Maybe the irritation was caused by drying out my skin, but is not it still irritation? And if I use alcohol based hand rubs on a daily basis, for example when we are travelling, my skin get very dry and also irritated, like having red spots and little wounds. Do you mean that the skin is getting just dry because of alcohol and that leads to irritation? Or do you mean your skin cannot be irritated anyhow because of SD alcohol? I am so confused as my skin in much better shape since I dont use products with SD alcohol and I am also a fan of Paula, but still enough open minded and curious of your opinion, research.

        • MsTindigo June 8, 2015, 6:36 am

          And do you really think it does not hurt the skin barrier?

        • Randy Schueller June 9, 2015, 1:10 pm

          Hi MsTindigo: As we discussed in the podcast, we couldn’t find any studies showing that ethanol is irritating to skin. That means that for most people, formulas with small amounts of alcohol shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re using products with a high level of alcohol and you find that they dry out your skin, you’re wise to skip them.

          • MsTindigo June 9, 2015, 1:15 pm

            Thanks for you answer! It is just not clear for me… You said: “formulas with small amounts of alcohol shouldn’t be a problem”
            What do you mean under small amount? Under 5% for example? And you also offered alcohol-based hand rub therefore. So then should we use or not? I dont mean myself I mean generally would you offer alcohol based products for skin care, or just hand rub?

          • Randy Schueller June 9, 2015, 1:53 pm

            I don’t mean to be vague but it’s hard to give one answer that suits everyone. Let me try again:

            1. The scientific literature that we could find says that ethanol is not irritating to skin.

            2. If you find that your skin is sensitive to ethanol or that you find it drying then you should probably avoid it altogether. (This sounds like your situation?)

            3. For other people, products with ethanol don’t pose a problem especially in lotions and other formulas that do not consist primarily of ethanol (like toners and hand sanitizers do.)

          • Michelle August 12, 2015, 2:32 am

            As you can probably tell, I’m slowly catching up on all your podcasts (and discovering that you guys have literally covered every topic under the sun…).

            I’ve been telling people for ages that alcohol isn’t itself an irritant or necessarily drying, but I think the reason that a lot of people experience irritation with high alcohol products is the penetration enhancement aspect – it might be helping other irritants in the formula get through skin, i.e. it’s not the culprit, it just leaves the door open.

  • Jasmine June 5, 2015, 3:22 pm

    I have been sunscreen shamed by my own family (I come from very light skinned Norwegians). I distinctly remember my dad asking if I could “get any whiter” and to “lay off the sunscreen”. People have told me it’s not healthy to wear sunscreen (because I’m not getting vitamin D – which is BS), that the sunscreen will give me cancer, and of course my favorite – that you can’t get any sun damage on a cloudy day.
    Last summer BOTH my parents were found to have malignant melanomas on their heads – and had to have surgery to have them removed and are being monitored for further growth. They see the value of sunscreen now. And I think that is what it will take for the vast majority of Americans to see the light (pun intentional) as more and more people start suffering from skin cancer (the fastest growing cancer in the US) I think the shaming will turn the way it should – to those who don’t use.

    • LittleTabby June 6, 2015, 5:55 pm

      It is great that you keep using sunscreen. Here in Australia skin cancer is an epidemic yet people still don’t use it or reapply frequently. I still see people on Bondi Beach and Manly Beach frying themselves even in winter.
      If I ever burn it is usually in winter as the sun is very strong all year round.

  • Eva June 6, 2015, 4:15 am

    1. Do I really have to reapply physical sunblock (zinc based) every 2 hours? (Assuming my skin don’t perspire or sunscreen doesn’t get physically rubbed off.
    2. For zinc based sunblock, does the 3 year expiry date really apply?

    • Randy Schueller June 6, 2015, 9:26 am

      1. I wish I knew the definitive answer. It’s true that physical sunscreens don’t get “used up” like UV absorbers but I’ve never seen any data that says you don’t have to apply them as frequently. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry and re-apply every few hours.

      2. I would say yes because the emulsion in which the zinc/Tio2 is suspended may not be stable for that long especially if it’s left in the sun, hot trunk of a car, etc. The particles of the physical sunscreen can agglomerate and they wouldn’t be as effective.

  • Joyce June 8, 2015, 6:24 pm

    Great content, but you really need to proofread.

    • Randy Schueller June 9, 2015, 9:30 am

      Sorry Joyce. The process we use to transcribe our podcasts from voice to text is pretty crappy. I put the full blame on our IT department.

      • Eileen June 9, 2015, 10:19 am

        IT Dept. That would be you, yes? LOL

        • Randy Schueller June 9, 2015, 11:34 am

          Technically yes, Eileen, but let’s just keep that between you and me.

      • Perry Romanowski June 9, 2015, 10:29 am


  • George liosatos June 14, 2015, 10:46 am

    What about suncare products containing alcohol?
    Is sun plus alcohol danger /phototoxic for the skin?
    Some baby products are using alcohol for baby suncare products!!

  • Jean C. August 15, 2015, 12:15 pm

    It is hard for me to tell as the picture is small, but is that a rat on Perry’s shoulder? I would imagine it would be hard to work around them on a routine basis without having at least one steal your heart. 🙂

    • admin August 15, 2015, 12:36 pm

      I think that is a rubber chicken. We don’t know about that guy sometimes.

  • Pilgrim September 29, 2015, 2:01 pm

    Jersey Shore