Are Nanoparticles In Sunscreen Safe?

With all the hoopla going on about banning and avoiding nanoscale particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in sunscreens, I decided to weigh in on this issue and hopefully provide some clarity.

Nano sized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are small sized (under 100  nanometers (nm)) manipulations/particles that are used in sunscreens to make it more cosmetically elegant. Prior to nano technology, sunscreens that contained these physical sunblock ingredients left a harsh white cast, making it difficult for the consumer to wear sunscreen on a daily basis. Nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide on the other hand settle as a clear, protective barrier with little to no white cast at all.  Due to this very reason, many people (including myself) prefer sunscreens with nano sized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Approved by the FDA since 1999, nanoparticles in sunscreens have become the standard in many sunscreens designed for facial skin. With this increase in popularity, many people have been wondering whether nano technology in sunscreen is safe or not.

Only recently have I been hearing of areas of the world (Australia) banning the use of sunscreens with nanoparticles in certain school districts. I personally find this to be a bit of an over reaction. I don’t see the need for this at all.

What needs to be understood is that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide do not penetrate the skin. Even with the presence of nano technology, there is no alteration to this truth. Short term and long term risks involving sunscreens with nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are insufficient, scarce and not concrete. IMO, it’s being blown out of proportion by many ‘anti-sunscreen’ advocates.

I understand and appreciate the desire for more ‘natural’ skin care and homeopathic remedies, but blowing things out of proportion and manipulating studies is wrong.

Without a doubt I am an advocate for safe skin care and cosmetic usage. For the longest time I was anti-hydroquinone, and to this day I still do not advocate it as a top skin lightening choice. But I have educated myself to learn that there is insufficient data involving the human dangers of it at low percentages (2-4%) and for a short period of usage.

With the issue involving nano sized particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, I have yet to find concrete studies proving long term danger so I simply cannot jump on the anti-nanoparticle sunscreen bandwagon.

In July of 2007, the FDA released a report which focused nano technology in cosmetics and sunscreens. Here is an excerpt:

“the current science does not support a finding that classes of products with nanoscale materials necessarily present greater safety concerns than classes of products without nanoscale materials”

In 2008, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) made an official statement regarding the safety of nano-sized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide:

“The weight of current evidence is that they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer dead layer (stratum corneum) of the skin.”

Most of the studies and findings by researchers I have come across clearly state that nano sized particles of these physical sunblock ingredients do not penetrate the skin, but instead remain on the surface layer (epidermis).

Obviously research is still being done, and I will always be on the lookout for the latest findings. As of now, I am going to stick with science that is present (as I always do) and not worry myself sick over sunscreens with nanoparticles in them.

IMO, there should be more concern over people who do not wear sunscreen on a daily basis and are in direct sun exposure for hours. THAT is the real concern and link to skin cancer. THAT is what has been proven by science to cause many health concerns and skin disorders.

Without the prescence of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in sunscreens, I probably wouldn’t be wearing sunscreen or being on a skin lightening regimen! I don’t like to use all chemical sunscreens (avobenzone etc.) and I definitely cannot stand sunscreens with harsh white casts. The only reason why I can wear sunscreen everyday and not look like I have slathered chalk all over my face is because of nano technology.

It’s difficult enough to find a sunscreen that doesn’t break us out, or make us look like we’ve dipped in our faces in oil – we shouldn’t be worrying over ‘blown up by the media’ matters like this. There is simply just not enough evidence to convince me that there is a health risk to using a physical sunscreen with nano technology. I would much rather worry about the big picture, in that years of accumulated sun exposure can lead to cancer as well as removing all my six years of hard work in skin lightening.

I’ve worked (and I know all of you have as well) very hard and spent a lot of money and time building a regimen that allows me to have the skin tone I’ve always wanted. An even, clear, youthful complexion. I know a HUGE part of this is due to daily sunscreen usage. Without it, nothing works! I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – you can be using the best skin lightening products, or chemical peels or vitamin C serums out there, but they will all be futile if you do not wear sunscreen to protect your skin.

With such huge important I place on sunscreen, there is no way I am going to give up my Japanese sunscreen that contains nano-sized zinc oxide simply because some skin care gurus or schools are banning the use of this technology. It just doesn’t add up, and until I read something more concrete or find another viable alternative, I’ll continue to happily use my sunscreen that has nanoparticles of zinc oxide in it everyday.

CosmeticsINFO: Nanotechnology
PharmacyMix Blog: Are Sunscreens With Nano Particles Safe?

Photo Credit: Stylelist

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