The perils of not screening your sunscreen this summer

OTTAWA, May 11 /CNW Telbec/ - According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit based in Washington D.C., 2 out of 5 brand name sunscreens do not afford consumers enough protection from the sun or contain hazardous chemicals. Consumers can not simply trust their sunscreen or suncare product claims of 'broad spectrum protection'- they have to flip their bottles over and become proficient label readers.

The sunscreen crisis has been coming to a head over the past year with consumer advocacy groups like the EWG avidly pointing fingers at the FDA and Health Canada as well as sunscreen manufacturers. The heart of their critique centers around the fact that 84% of total UV light that we are exposed to is made up of long-wave UVA light, otherwise known as the ageing rays. UVA light is also responsible for certain forms of skin cancers the rate of which have been increasing in North America by 50% over the past 20 years. The controversy arises when you consider that rates of sunscreen use have also steadily increased - the answer seems to lie with most sunscreens and their failure to provide proper protection.

In North America, two 'schools' of sunscreen formulations have begun to develop with markedly different approaches. Traditional avobenzone (Parsol 1789) based formulas are beginning to launch high SPF products that can go as high as SPF 100. The second 'school' of thought was born out of Australia and formulates using zinc oxide at higher percentages of up to 25% concentration.

Dr. Sharyn Laughlin, an Ottawa based Dermatologist and consultant for CyberDERM Laboratories, a manufacturer of a suncare product, claims, "High SPF formulas can actually be very misleading. While they may provide only 1-2% more protection against the burning rays (UVB) than an SPF 30, most of them fail to protect up until the longest UVA wavelengths. They are actually increasing your ability to sustain sun damage by allowing you to stay in the sun longer."

Zinc oxide based formulas on the other hand are unique in their ability to provide consistent protection without the need to add any other active ingredient. Consumers should look for formulas containing a concentration of at least 15% or higher. Newer formulas that use nano zinc now allow transparent application without the chalky or white look of their predecessors.

Of the 1,765 suncreens tested by the EWG, every single sunscreen on their top ten list includes zinc oxide. With regards to the question of the safety of nano or micronized sized zinc oxide, they gave this statement on their website, "On balance, EWG researchers found that zinc and titanium-based formulations are among the safest, most effective sunscreens on the market based on available evidence. The easy way out of the nano debate would be to steer people clear of zinc and titanium sunscreens with a call for more data. In the process such a position would implicitly recommend sunscreen ingredients that don't work, that break down soon after they are applied, that offer only marginal UVA protection, or that absorb through the skin."

CyberDERM Laboratories is small scale manufacturer and retailer of high end anti-aging cosmeceuticals, including a zinc oxide based sun care product.


For further information: For further information: Sara Dudley, Executive Director, CyberDERM Laboratories, P. (613) 798-4437, E.,

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