What Are Chem-Free Sunscreens

Episode #44 / Jul 13, 2009
Chem-free sunscreens generally have the edge over regular suncreens. But how can this be the case if they're chem-free? Dr. Schultz will explain the difference between traditional and chem-free sunscreens and why the latter are generally better.
Teri Stodd on July 18, 2009 at 12:41am

Dr. Schutz,

Do you have any comments on the advantage of chem-free or physical sunscreens over the sunscreens made with Tinosorb that are sold in Europe?

My understanding, based on my reading is that there is another rating factor, separate from SPF, called PPD that is specifically used to measure UV-A.

Apparently, these Tinosorb-based sunscreens offer much greater protection from UV-A rays - specifically.

Thank you.

Neal Schultz, M.D. on July 31, 2009 at 3:52pm

@Teri Stodd: Great question. Tinosorb-based sunscreens may confer an advantage over chem-free or physical sunscreens. Tinosorb is allegedly (not proven, new, not FDA appoved, not available in US) the most effective UV protection available for both UVA and UVB rays, according to a 2007 study published in the European journal Pharmazie. It is not just a physical sunscreen that prevents UV rays from hitting the skin, or just a chemical sunscreen that prevents transmitted rays from damaging the skin, but instead, works as both, shielding and protecting the skin. In terms of PPD (persistent pigment darkening, the new test for UV A efficacy) rating, our current physical sunscreens have PPD ratings of 16 and higher which is very good so I'm not sure yet if Tinosorb will deliver meaningful increased clinical protection as opposed to a higher lab number that doesn't really translate into meaningful additional sunprotection (like increasing SPF from 30 to 100...which only increases UV B protection 3 or 4%....which I don't know what that really means for my skin). Based on current studies, it does not seem that long-term exposure to Tinosorb has any damaging effects, nor does it seem that irritation is common. Still, Tinosorb is a relatively new ingredient, and further studies need to be done to determine the ingredient’s true side effects, if any. Stay tuned!!

Teri Stodd on August 13, 2009 at 12:02pm

Hello again Dr. Schultz,

Thank you for your reply. I've done further reading on Tinosorb. Apparently there are two types of Tinosorb - S and M. In your response - are you referring to one of these types?

Thank you, Teri

Neal Schultz, M.D. on October 5, 2009 at 1:11am

@Teri Stodd: Sorry for delay in answering your above question. Both should work the same but the "M" means "microfine" which is a smaller particle size; probably not nano particles but very small.