What Sunscreen Ingredients Are Safe For All Skin Types


What Sunscreen Ingredients Are Safe For All Skin Types
So welcome to the Smazy Academy Show with Tonia Ryan and...

Dr. Christopher Khorsandi M.D. a.k.a Doc Vegas.

In today's episode, we're going to be talking about safe sunscreen.

Well, sunscreen in general. I mean, we want to cover this really important part of the skincare world that, I think I've said it before that one of the main things that we continue to do in the healthcare world is educate about the importance of skin protection against UV radiation. The biggest healthcare issue with sun damage is it leads to some skin cancers. And so if we can educate people now... 50 years ago, people were going out with baby oil and iodine.

Oh yeah, that was really bad.

People's grandparents would just kind of roast in the sun, get sunburns, and that led to a lot of skin cancers. Epidemiologically, it's a huge incidence in the baby boom generation of skin cancers, melanomas, squamous cell carcinomas. And we really, I think from a physician standpoint, my goal is to help prevent that kind of tragedy that's very much avoidable by using good skincare and using the right sunscreens.

Right. And there is so many different sunscreen ingredients that are pretty controversial right now.

Yeah, there's definitely... Listen, there is going to be a lot of controversy about these different ingredients, because like anything in science, we try to test this idea, this notion that this product may be bad for our skin, and we try to look at outcomes with it. And some outcomes are conflicting, right?


You may get some topical stuff that in animal studies may change some physiological aspect of that animal. Like my studies in animal studies, like paraffins, very controversial area. And then other studies will contradict that. They do human based studies, they'll do trials. And so this is where we got to have a little bit of flexibility in our understanding of what's good and what's bad. There are things that we do know for the most part we should avoid. And there are things that we should try to minimize obviously, and there are some things that are probably unavoidable in some of these products that we have to accept for the benefit that we get from having sunblock.

From having the sunblock, right?


People are saying you certainly want to get mineral based type sunscreen because then we're having zinc or titanium dioxide, which are supposed to be the better forms of the type of sunscreen.

Right. I can't argue with that. I think that the zinc oxide, titanium oxide products, they offer a broader spectrum of coverage. So there's UVA and UVB radiation, and obviously there are products that are a little bit more skewed towards one or the other. But with mineral based sunblocks, you have a much broader spectrum sort of protection. They tend to have a little bit more shimmery look to them. They have-

Which helps cover up flaws, which is kind of nice too.

Yeah, they are kind of cool, but they definitely give a little bit more protection. Some people say mineral base, but what does that really mean? What percentage of the product has that mineral in it? And so percentages do matter when it comes to these sorts of protection factors, but then there are other things like that's an active ingredient in some way. It has an active reflective quality to it, and maybe you could say it's passive because it's a reflective, it's not changing anything in our biology. It's like putting a reflective shield over our skin. And then there are other things like inactive ingredients, the things that... Well, this is where it gets a little confusing. So they should be inactive, like paraffins, right?


Paraffins are in so many cosmetic products. In fact, they're in a lot of the cosmetic removers.

Yes, that's true as well.

Paraffins are used to dissolve makeup because it's like with like. So when you get a make up remover, oftentimes it's got paraffin in it to remove the makeup. So that's supposedly an inactive ingredient, but studies on paraffins in lab studies are showing that it may interfere with estrogen-

Yes, which is not good.

... and hormonal cascades. And there's this question, theoretical not proven yet, or may never be proven, whether or not interfering with that hormone cascade for women may increase the risk for types of cancers that are hormonally modulated, such as breast cancer.

And what about let's say if we're just using any sunscreen on the beach and we're spraying it on our children and on young boys and girls, and they're getting... They don't need any of those.

Yeah. I mean the other class of things that I think is going to be very interesting and we need to start the conversation is the class of again "inactive" ingredients, the carrier particles. The reason why we call them inactive is that they actually aren't really doing anything to block the sun's radiation.

They're just extra additives.

Additives that make either the sunscreen or sunblock smoother or they're fragrance type base, or they're something that just keeps the total mixture in a sort of solution. So another one of those things are pthalates. Pthalates, I'm very concerned for as a physician because they're in so many products in our environment and they weren't in our environment 40 years ago. And so one of the difficult-

So they're just using them as an additive?

Well in plastic bottles, pthalates actually when they're added to water bottles, they make the water bottle more pliable.

Got it.

When added to plastics they make the material more pliable, which is beneficial for when you're making stuff, you want a soft rubber sort of thing. You want something that bends and yields. And so we added this to our water bottles and here's the problem with pthalates, and there's some studies that just came out and it's very difficult to talk about because I know it affects a lot of people personally. That there may be a correlation between the amounts of pthalates in our environment and autism and autism spectrum disorders. And that mothers who have a higher exposure to pthalates during pregnancy have a higher risk, correlatory risk. Studies done in the UK show there was a higher risk associated with mothers who took higher doses of pthalates in from their environment for the autism spectrum.

Now the good news is, is that you can counteract pthalates with folic acid. Folic acid's a miracle sort of drug for pregnancy.

It is.

But can we cut down on the pthalates in our environment? Yeah.


We can cut down on it by choosing products that are pthalate-free. And so I think we're going to have a rude awakening just like with the cigarette industry.

We don't realize. Yeah.

We woke up... In the 1950s, they used to have these commercials on TV about smoking, how great it was and how it gave you a smooth feeling. And we realized how bad these things were for us. And I think we're going to have that same sort of awakening over the next decade or two. And it's going to be-

Well, hopefully not. If we can educate enough people, we can try to start a movement

Well, we're going to move away from it. We're going to get you to use this kind of platform to educate yourself. And also when we educate and say, "Let's try to limit the pthalates in our skincare products." It makes a consumer sort of demand those products from the companies that make them, and then we get this paradigm shift. We get companies making more pthalate-free products and we make ourselves a healthier society. But pthalates are things that you want to avoid, parabens, and there are other things, toxic ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate.

Yeah, SLES. Yeah. That's in so many different products. It's unbelievable.

The great thing about the revolution in manufacturing that's occurred over the last 80 years in the industrial audits was that we've got products that are so much better for getting it out and shelf stability and texture, and feeling, but we've sacrificed safety for texture sometimes, for the feel on the skin.

Yeah, that's not a good choice. I don't think.

No, those aren't trade offs than I'm willing to accept.


And so you shouldn't either. And so when it comes to a skincare product that has a minimal pthaletes, minimal parabens, some of the things that we like will be listed below, that we have some examples of things that we think have an excellent sort of mixture of mineral based protection.

Yes, the zinc and titanium dioxide are supposed to be the two best-


... that help with the broad spectrum sunscreen, which is UVA and UVB.


Which is great. And we try to choose those products because they seem to be about the best.

Well, there are products that are sunscreens that are everyday sort of sunscreens. You put them on as part of your morning regimen. And so we'll have those down below that you can choose from. And that's something that's a moisturizer with a sunscreen in it. Something that's good for your morning commute, somewhere that you're in the car, you're getting about half hour of sun exposure on the left side of your face, maybe your [inaudible 00:09:23] Maybe if you're in an environment where you're driving in a convertible, lucky you. You may be getting a lot of sun exposure in that 20 minute, 30 minute, maybe hour commute. There's things that you need to put on every day.

We believe that sunscreen is a basic need in your skincare products. And then there's going to be stuff for active days. You're going to go rock climbing, you're going to go to the beach, you're going to be out at a barbecue. Maybe you're going to go for a walk in the neighborhood and it's a sunny day, there's a different type of sunblock that needs to be a little bit more robust.

Yeah. We outline a lot of that too at Smazy Academy, which is our learning platform. And that can teach you so much about different sunscreens, the best type of sunscreen for your skin and your environment and your activity.

Right. Once you guys get into the Smazy Academy side of the platform, what it is, is a knowledge base and this stuff is fun to listen to. It will give you some of the pearls, but if you really want to get into the understanding of it and try to learn what's right for your skin, navigate through the knowledge base and troubleshoot your personal areas, look for things that are more specific to the time of day, the regimen that you need, water resistant maybe. Maybe you're active and you live on the coast, you're in the water all the time. You like to go run on the beach, you like to take a dip halfway through it. There's definitely sunscreens that are more favorable to those conditions than maybe if you're on the slopes. Maybe it's winter time and you're carving some gnarly- like trails down the backside of a mountain.

It makes a difference as far as what you're using. And there's 16 different sunscreen ingredients, according to the FDA, and they only said that two are safe and that's zinc and titanium dioxide.

Yeah. So all these things come at a certain sort of consequence. So we really want to minimize the consequences in our life. Take out the things that are unnecessary, use the things that are going to help us, and prevent all the preventable types of skin cancer that we can and start young. Your kids, it's so important that we find products that are safe for children, and you use things that are mild in terms of their formulation, but still providing the protective effect that we need.

And also protective of, let's say our coral reefs, because oxybenzone, am I saying that right?


Is it oxybenzone?


Yes, that is damaging coral reef. So if you're using that type of sunscreen and then you're going into the water at the beach-

You're killing the environment. So this is the other thing. We've become much more aware of how chemicals interact with our environment. So if you're going to put on a sunscreen that's really not made for in the water for certain reasons. Number one, it may stay on great, but you know what, it may destroy the environment that you're enjoying, and we have to be cognizant of this because once we lose our coral reefs, that's it. It's game over.

That's terrible.

And so protecting the environment is also part of this consciousness of skincare products. We want to protect ourselves, we want to protect our children, we also want to protect the environment around us for generations to come.

We have to really watch too, because this oxybenzone I've seen, I was using a certain makeup foundation and the ingredients are so small, half the time you have to pull everything off the bottom. And I think because I still can't read it properly. It says oxybenzone's in it and I've been using it for years. So it's time to change my foundation.

We know that benzene groups are really toxic. The benzine group is an aromatic type of compound, and those are the things that when you're in a lab, you're doing chemistry work. You know, those are the things that you have to operate under a hood, which is like a closed environment. You ever see like they work under this thing where the ventilation goes off through a filtration system, because if you're inhaling benzine groups, they can cause carcinogenic changes in your cells. We know this, we've known this for a hundred years, and for some reason we're using benzyl groups in different products.

So it makes me wonder why are these different companies just using it? Maybe they didn't know the facts before or haven't changed it.

Well, they work for a secondary reason. Pthalates made bottles softer, so we want a little softer grip to our water bottle. And the problem is I don't think that there's this evil mustache-twisting person there saying, "Yeah, we're going to destroy the environment." But I think it's just that it's carelessness on our part.

Okay. So we have to make sure that we know what we're putting on our own skin.

I'm really happy that we've come to a point in our society, where we're more aware of what we're doing to our bodies and placing in our skin and placing in our bodies. And we're looking at how this industrialized chemical world is actually affecting us and the growth of our children and the environment.

Well, technology has helped that so much because back in the day, if I wanted any information, where did I have to go? To the library, to get an encyclopedia that had this much information. Nowadays, there's a plethora of information, some great, some not so great.

Yeah, well, there's Google, it's our library. It's our modern day library of Alexandria. It's this mythical thing of all knowledge. But some of that knowledge isn't really easy to understand.

It's not.

You get into these chemical names and your eyes glaze over and you're like, "Wow."

Sure. Like, "So what is that?"

So what do I have to do?

Did I pronounce that correctly?

Can I use any of these products and we're going to kind of show you what is going to be minimally irritating, things that are safe for the environment. I remember a couple of years ago, we were down in Mexico at Tulum, where there's an environmental theme park called Xcaret. And you go into the theme park and they would confiscate your sunblock because they have natural coral in the area. And it's funny because people are like, "Oh, this is just a scam. They're just trying to sell [crosstalk 00:15:08] sunblock. And it's not, it's like they are environmentally aware about what the effect of this tourism on these natural sites was doing. And that's a testament to the stewardship of certain people of their environment.

So it was probably just zinc and titanium dioxide in theirs.

Yeah. I mean, it was a very...It may not have felt as creamy as other things, it may not have the-

Well, it could be that maybe those ingredients are a little more expensive.

But it was safer. Listen, it was safer-

Maybe the other ones are cheaper, and that's why a lot of the companies are using them.

Yeah. It works well. It was effective. It was a mineral-based sunblock. And I felt better being able to get into the water and not hurting the environment. And that's, I think, very, very important.

It's super important.

I want to be able to bring my kids back to places like this and be able to say, "Okay, let's go look. There's a sea turtle. This is life under the ocean. And this is the environment we live in." We have to preserve this for my children and our children's children as well.

Exactly. So that's why my picks and according to what the FDA is saying are the safest, are the zinc and titanium dioxide.

You never thought about your skincare products harming the environment, right?

Or yourself really.

Because it's such a personal thing. We do skincare things just for our personal needs an there's a lot more consciousness about our own personal choices affecting the world around us.

Right. So that's super important to think of it. A lot of people have probably never even thought of that at all.

Yeah, we're not going to chain ourselves to the trees, right?

We can't, there's so many different things.

Individually, if you're conscious about the environment, we can improve the world around us by the choices in the consumer products that we buy. And so this is one way in which you can educate yourself and take this podcast or this video that you're watching here and talk about it with your friends. Share it with people who... I think we all need to be more environmentally conscious in every way, and there's different levels to it, but it all begins with your consumer choices.

And it's so important because you don't want to not wear a sunscreen. That's one of the most important things that we always discuss.

Right. Part of the collective nature of human beings is that we talk about healthcare systems all the time. We talk about how do we administer our healthcare system to millions of people? Well, preventative care is the backbone of the future of health care, and preventing skin cancer is one of the most important things that we can easily accomplish, but choosing products and using them on a regular basis.

Yeah. Wearing a sunscreen daily, just because of the ultraviolet light and also the blue lights that we're getting from our phones and computers and everything else.

Skin cancer is devastating, and I'm sure there's people who are out there listening right now, who knows somebody who had to through a skin cancer treatment. If it's on the face, it can be disfiguring. If it's on the body, it could really be difficult to treat. There's a high mortality with melanoma. It's really scary. It's a very scary disease, melanoma. A little tiny mole can kill you.

Can turn into a lot.

And we've seen it. And the other thing is that if you think, this is a time where I can insert a little public service announcement, but listen, if you think that you have a mole that's changed recently-

You have to go get it checked.

... you should get into see your healthcare professional, your dermatologist, your primary care doctor who's screening for these things. And if you really need to get a good total body scan, make an appointment to see your dermatologist. And there's certain aspects about skin moles that you really want to look at. And we'll get into that. The qualities of a pigmented lesion that you should look for is going to be one of the videos that we have coming up.

Yeah, because they need to see pictures and they actually see...

I mean, nobody can self-diagnose 100%, and you shouldn't. And this video is really educational, but we're not here to replace a visit to your doctor. It's not to be used in lieu of diagnosis, treatment or cure in this sort of problem.

It's for our entertainment.

It's entertainment and information, education. And one of the take home points is that obviously sunblock's important, so is diagnosis.

Wear a sunscreen every day, try to choose the best sunscreens that the FDA is saying, which have zinc and titanium dioxide as the only sunscreen ingredients, that's important. And if you think that there's any issues going on with yourself, you should go and get checked.

That's always important. If you're not sure, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider. Get in, the best thing about diagnosing something early skin cancers in earlier stages are 98% curable, almost 100% curable.

That's great.

As it progresses, that rate of survival goes down. That's the scary part. And so sticking your head in the sand-

You don't want to do that.

You don't want to do that.

You want to prevent, prevent, prevent, prevent.

Prevent is our mantra. And so we have a section in Smazy Academy about sun damage and how to treat sun damage. And I said as the years go on, we hope that less and less people are going on that section and that we're eliminating sun damage.

Because we've helped educate you to try prevent as much as you can.

Yeah, turn the tide against bad habits and protect ourselves in this radiation environment that we're in with the sun. So it's good stuff.

So at smazy.com we will help you pick out the best sunscreens. If you go there, there's going to be a category that is sunscreens that have titanium dioxide as well as zinc, and then we're going to put it in the description as well.

Yeah. But the cool thing is now, if you sign up for Smazy Academy, you get the education part of it. You get the kind of more in-depth sort of skincare knowledge base. But with that monthly subscription to the educational platform, you get to spend that money on smazy.com.

Yes. Depending upon which package you choose, a portion of that or all of it, depending upon which package is going to be used towards skincare products. So you basically can get all the knowledge for free and then basically like free skincare. It's like a two for one.

Right. So you're getting a deeper understanding of this problem, the choices that you have to make. And then you can go shopping, find something that works for you.

Yeah. And we'll make sure that we help you answer any questions you have. So you can ask us a question below in the comments, if you want. If you have any questions about which sunscreen you think is the best we can help give you a link to the best one on Smazy. And one of our team members and one of our team members will be happy to help you out.

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That's amazing.

So, just give us your feedback. We want to hear about it. Give us a review and you may win.

And you could get free skincare.

It's pretty cool.

That's the best.

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