We get a lot of requests for the next product to add to the OUMERE line: lip balm, body wash, shampoo. But there is one request that stands out above them all, and that is for a sunscreen.
And it is no surprise that there is a need for a new sunscreen on the market, chemical sunscreens are destroying the environment, are banned in certain areas, and can cause eye and skin irritation. Mineral sunscreens are sloppily formulated and the white cast is a cosmetic concern.
The white cast is especially apparent on those with darker skin tones.
Furthermore, I haven't found a "natural" sunscreen that doesn't put you at risk for skin cancer. The SPF is often lower than advertised. There are essential oils, alcohol and fragrance in the formula which break your skin cells down and make your DNA vulnerable to mutation. And they look so bad on the skin that you forgo wearing it and end up going out in the sun unprotected.
An OUMERE sunscreen is the solution to the sunscreen problem, and it is coming soon. In these series of posts I will provide updates on the sunscreen including the current state of the formula, its testing phases and current challenges.
The OUMERE sunscreen is going to contain the following FDA approved natural UV blockers: Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide.
Zinc oxide forms a physical block on your skin, as seen from this scanning electron microscope (SEM) image.
The sunscreen will not contain any chemical blockers due to their damaging environmental impact and capacity to cause irritation.
A change in opinion
I am revising my original stance that mineral sunscreens should be non-nano for the following reasons:
1. There has not been substantial evidence to conclusively show that nano particles in sunscreen pose a health danger.
The current evidence has determined that Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles do not reach viable skin cells and do not cause any more irritation or health concern than their non-nano counterparts.
I also understand that sunscreen ingredients must undergo extensive review by the FDA and government regulators in multiple countries, and ingredients that pose significant safety issues (as in the case of PABA ) are often withdrawn from the consumer market.
There has been plenty of time and research gone into nano particles and nothing of evidentiary value has arisen, therefore I am to conclude there isn't much to be concerned about at this time.
2. Nano sunscreens look better on the skin because they do not give a white cast. Sunscreen only works if you wear it, and in order to wear it you have to like how it looks on your face.
I have been experimenting with both nano and non-nano minerals and the nano versions look much better: no white cast, smoother finish and softer feel.
3. When you are working with nano or non-nano zinc or titanium dioxide, you are given powder that contains an average particle size. That means that the average particle size in non-nano zinc is over 100nm. Nano zinc is between 80nm-100. So the difference is not that big and having 100nm as the threshold for what many are considering "safe" may be more arbitrary than previously thought.
4. Nano particles have a higher SPF per mg of product used than non-nano particles, making them a more effective product.
The inactive ingredient (non-pharmaceutical) portion of the formula is going to contain ingredients that boost the effects of the zinc and titanium dioxide which allows me to put less of these two ingredients in the formula, while keeping the SPF high. The result of using less minerals is less white cast and a greater desire to wear the product.
The inactive ingredients in the sunscreen impact the SPF of the product. If you look up various mineral sunscreens, you will see that you will have a range of SPF and mineral concentrations. Some formulas will have 20% zinc and an SPF of 40, while others will have the same zinc percentage and a completely different SPF. The reason for this is because the other ingredients within the formula affect the SPF. I am adding ingredients which contain polyphenols and other organic compounds that boost the protective effects of zinc and titanium dioxide.
The OUMERE Sunscreen is going to be a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and will protect against UV-A(ging) and UV-B(urning) rays. The SPF will be no less than 30 and no more than 50. Within this range you are receiving 96.7-98% UV protection. SPF higher than 50 has negligible protection at the cost of added chemicals in the product.
Current Status and Next Steps
To get a sunscreen to market there are more hurdles that have to be jumped than your typical skin care product. Sunscreens are considered an over-the-counter (OTC) drug because they are intended to protect against skin cancer, Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are considered pharmaceutical ingredients, and the entire process is tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore we have to take extra steps to bring the product to market. The steps are as follows:
1. Formulary (Current Step)
The formulary steps involve researching ingredients and drafting formulas. This step is complete when you create a product whose performance and appearance are to your standards. I have been working on the OUMERE sunscreen formula for two years now. I am just about complete with this step.
2. Testing (Next Step)
The testing phase requires sending your final (draft) formula to an independent sunscreen testing lab that operates under FDA guidelines and standards. The testing phase involves determining the SPF of the product and in-vivo testing with several test subjects. The in-vivo testing shows that your sunscreen can be applied to actual human skin (from a living subject), protects against the sun when applied to the SPF level measured, and does not cause irritation. After this phase, stability testing is performed to ensure that the sunscreen can sit on a shelf for 2 years without losing its SPF abilities or going bad.
This step normally takes 2-6 weeks.
The next update post will be when we reach this step.
Once the sunscreen has passed testing it is ready to be manufactured, which is of course done in an FDA-compliant facility specialized to make sunscreens and who operates under the strictest and highest standards.
This step normally takes 4-10 weeks
The sunscreen has to be packaged in a bottle that will prolong the shelf life to at least the 2 year mark. We will likely opt for completely opaque packaging, instead of the semi-opaque amber packaging seen in many sunscreens. The packaging will stay true to the OUMERE brand and will be in glass, which unlike plastic, doesn't interact or leech into the skin care and prolongs the shelf life.
Researching packaging takes several months.
As you can see, sunscreen is a challenge. But it is a worthwhile one. More posts to come.
If you would like to add your input for the upcoming sunscreen, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Holmes, A. M., Song, Z., Moghimi, H. R., & Roberts, M. S. (2016). Relative penetration of zinc oxide and zinc ions into human skin after application of different zinc oxide formulations. ACS nano, 10(2), 1810-1819.
Lademann, J., Weigmann, H., Rickmeyer, C., Barthelmes, H., Schaefer, H., Mueller, G., & Sterry, W. (2006). A review of the scientific literature on the safety of nanoparticulate titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in sunscreens. A us tra lia n G ove rn men t. Retrieved from http://www. tga. gov. au/pdf/review.
Leite-Silva, V. R., Sanchez, W. Y., Studier, H., Liu, D. C., Mohammed, Y. H., Holmes, A. M., ... & Grice, J. E. (2016). Human skin penetration and local effects of topical nano zinc oxide after occlusion and barrier impairment. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 104, 140-147.
Newman, M. D., Stotland, M., & Ellis, J. I. (2009). The safety of nanosized particles in titanium dioxide–and zinc oxide–based sunscreens. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 61(4), 685-692.
Vinardell, M., Llanas, H., Marics, L., & Mitjans, M. (2017). In vitro comparative skin irritation induced by nano and non-nano zinc oxide. Nanomaterials, 7(3), 56.