Why is zinc important in sunscreens

UV Filters In Sunscreens: Which Are Really Good?

The quality of a sun cream mainly depends on the UV filter used. These substances provide sun protection by keeping UV radiation from damaging our skin. Unfortunately, it's hard to keep track of things. The UV filters have complex chemical names and not all of them are compatible. Here you can find out which light protection filters you can trust.

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What makes a good UV filter?

Not all UV filters are equally good. There are UV filters that disintegrate under UV radiation, i.e. are not photostable. As a result, the protective effect diminishes and the decay products can irritate the skin.

Some chemical sun protection filters can cause allergies. This reaction is often interpreted as a sun allergy. In this article you will learn how to recognize a sun allergy.

We find it particularly worrying when UV filters get into the bloodstream. Then there is a risk that they will disrupt the body's metabolic processes. This is why it is important to take a close look at UV filters as well.

A good UV filter should combine these properties:

  • do not penetrate the skin
  • do not cause allergies
  • be photostable, d. H. don't disintegrate in the sun
  • have no side effects on the body's metabolism

Sun protection: what to look out for when buying

The UV filters are indicated with the other ingredients on the packaging of the sun cream. However, the manufacturers usually combine several UV filters in one product.

In addition, many filter substances are hidden behind complicated and hard-to-remember names (see list at the end). So we have to take a closer look.

Although it is tedious, it is worth taking a close look at the list of ingredients. In the USA, the UV filters are listed separately on the packaging. That would also make it easier to recognize them in Germany.

Important: Protection against UVA and UVB radiation

In addition, the filter combination should protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The sun's UVB rays trigger sunburn, while UVA rays contribute unnoticed to skin aging.

The stated sun protection factor (SPF) only refers to UVB radiation. It is therefore important that the UVA seal is also shown on the packaging. This is the only way you can be sure that the product protects against both rays.

The seal is given if the UVA protection is ⅓ of the UVB protection. With a sun protection factor of 30, the UVA factor must be at least 10. By the way, the UVA factor is also called PPD. This stands for Persistent pigment darkening. So it's about protection against pigmentation, i.e. tanning of the skin.

From a dermatological point of view, the higher the UVA protection, the better. If in doubt, ask your manufacturer.

UV filters should also protect against UVA radiation. Every sun protection should have this seal.

 

Other rays: protection against infrared and blue light?

Infrared radiation provides the sun's warmth. The usual filter fabrics do not protect against these rays. Vitamins and antioxidants provide protection against infrared radiation. A sunscreen product should contain certain vitamins to ensure better protection against infrared rays.

These vitamins protect against infrared radiation

Studies have shown that vitamin E is effective against infrared radiation. Vitamin C can also protect against infrared radiation. The coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) is known to many. Very few people know that it also protects against infrared radiation. The corresponding study can be found at the sources.

What protects against blue light?

Blue light is the radiation emitted by screens and cell phones. The well-known UV filters are of no use here either. It stands to reason that astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant and carotenoid, can absorb blue light radiation. However, we do not recommend panic and focus mainly on UV radiation. In our opinion, protection against blue light is mainly of interest to advertisers.

Chemical, organic or mineral? The types of UV filters

There are 2 different types of UV filters to protect the skin from UV radiation. Chemical filters convert the UV rays on the skin into heat. Mineral filters reflect sunlight on the skin. Mineral filters are small particles of zinc or titanium dioxide.

Chemical filter materials are also known as organic filters. Mineral filters can also be called inorganic or physical UV filters.

Both filters have advantages and disadvantages. In the next paragraph we take a closer look at the mineral filters. Then we turn to the question of whether chemical or mineral UV filters are better.

This is how chemical and mineral UV filters work on the skin

Mineral filters: safe and compatible

Mineral filters like Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (INCI: Titanium dioxide, Zinc Oxide) are generally compatible. They have the advantage that they do not disintegrate and do not trigger allergic reactions. Incidentally, certified natural cosmetics must always be limited to mineral filters.

However, these filters are not as pleasant to use as the chemical alternatives. The small particles often leave a white haze on the skin and are difficult to remove.

Mineral sunscreens usually leave a thick white layer behind.

Nano-sized mineral filters: harmful or not?

This is remedied by nano-sized mineral particles. These are tiny and can therefore be better distributed on the skin. Recently, however, there has been a discussion about these small particles. It is believed that the particles are so small that they penetrate the body. There they could endanger the organism.

According to current studies, it has not been conclusively clarified whether nanoparticles penetrate the skin. In this article we address the question of how harmful nanoparticles in sunscreens really are.

If you want to be absolutely sure, you should refrain from using nanoparticles. In our opinion, this applies above all to special sun creams for children and babies. Baby skin is so delicate that you shouldn't take any chances.

By the way, all nano-sized particles must be labeled with the word “nano” next to the ingredients (always in brackets behind the respective filter).

Which is better: chemical or mineral filters?

While mineral filters are always compatible, you have to look very carefully when using chemical UV filters.

A look at the list of ingredients can be worthwhile. Because a sunscreen with compatible chemical filters is just as harmless as a mineral sunscreen.

There are even some advantages. The modern chemical filters are much easier to remove from the skin surface because they do not penetrate the skin. Mineral filters stay longer on the skin and can accumulate in our horny layer. As a result, mineral sun protection products can dry out the skin.

Are Compatible Chemical UV Filters Better?

After intensive study of the UV filters used, we are now of the opinion that sunscreens are better with the right chemical filters. But it also remains a question of philosophy. Ultimately, it also depends on what you feel most comfortable with yourself.

Note: There are many chemical sunscreen filters with undesirable side effects. Unfortunately, these are also the filter fabrics that are most commonly used, such as Octocrylene.

By the way, a new study from 2021 shows that Octocrylene decomposes over time. It breaks down into harmful substances. This is why you should use sunscreen Octocrylene never save for the next summer

Natural UV filters - do they exist?

We answer this question with a resounding yes and no. Mineral filters could be viewed as natural UV filters. However, they have dermatological disadvantages (drying out of the skin).

Tiny zinc oxide and titanium particles actually have no place in our ecosystem either. So they're not really natural

Are Organic UV Filters Natural?

Chemical UV filters are also called organic filters. But is that why they are natural?

Not really. Although they are organic compounds, they are substances that do not occur naturally in nature. Some have side effects.

Antioxidants and oils as natural UV filters?

Many antioxidants, such as B. Vitamin E. and vitamin C, help the skin to protect itself against UV radiation. Also herbal substances, such as Green tea, Resveratrol or Astaxanthin, protect our skin. These substances provide natural sun protection.

But be careful: the natural sun protection factor is very low. Nobody should just rely on natural substances. We advise you to always use “real” UV filters.

Studies show: 80% of visible skin aging is caused by UV radiation. However, UV filters are only effective against 55% of the resulting free radicals. This is why it makes sense to use a sunscreen with antioxidants. Or apply a serum with antioxidants in addition to protect the skin even better. We recommend our skin gel +.

 

It is worth taking a look at the ingredients. Find safe UV filters with the help of our list.

Which chemical UV filters are harmless?

There is now a whole range of chemical UV filters that protect against UV radiation. According to the current state of research, these UV filters are harmless. The allergenic potential is low and no hormonal effects have been demonstrated in studies. Of course, all the filters listed here are also photostable.

This list contains all compatible UV filters with no harmful side effects:

  • Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine (Tinosorb S)
  • Drometrizole Trisiloxane (Meroxyl XL)
  • Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid (Mexoryl SX)
  • Ethylhexyl triazone (Uvinul T 150)
  • Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone) (This is a small special case. This filter is not photostable when used alone, but is nowadays always stabilized by other filters, so it is advisable to keep it on the positive list.)
  • Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate (Uvinul A Plus)
  • Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone (Iscotrizinol)
  • Phenylbenzimidazole Sulfonic Acid (Enzulisol)
  • Phenylene Bis-Diphenyltriazines (only on the market since 2019)

We avoid these UV filters

All common UV filters were classified as "safe" on the positive list of the Cosmetics Ordinance. Nevertheless, new studies are published again and again and we do not have the “average skin” in view, but our own and that of our family. That is why we do not use the following UV filters.

These UV filters penetrate the skin:

We are of the opinion that chemical UV filters have no place in the body and should not be deposited there. Various studies make it possible to conclude whether the skin lets the substances through or not.

Studies are regularly undertaken in which either the blood or breast milk of test subjects is examined for certain chemicals. If the UV filters are detected, this means that they somehow got into the body.

There are also laboratory tests in which the penetration rate through the skin is examined. For the UV filter Benzophenone-3 was z. B. found a penetration rate of over one percent. Other UV filters that fail this test are:
Benzophenone-3, Benzophenone-4, Benzophenone-5, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Octyl Methoxycinnamate

These UV filters trigger allergies:

Some of the UV filters have been reported to cause allergic reactions. Incidentally, this can also be the cause of a supposed sun allergy. We recommend avoiding the potential allergens:
Benzophenone-3, Benzophenone-4, Benzophenone-5, Ethylhexyl Dimethyl PABA, Homosalate, Octocrylene

These UV filters are suspected of disrupting metabolic processes:

This can happen when UV filter is similar to our hormones. Then they disrupt various metabolic processes or could favor tumors. So why use these substances when there are better ones? We do without:
Benzophenone-3, Benzophenone-4, Benzophenone-5, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Isoamyl Methoxycinnamate, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Octyl Methoxycinnamate

These UV filters are not photostable:

A substance that is supposed to protect us from the sun should not disintegrate when exposed to sunlight. There are ways to stabilize these UV filters with other ingredients, but caution is advised with these too:
Octyl methoxycinnamate

These UV filters contain microplastics:

Tinosorb S is a safe UV filter that we recommend. But there is also the new filter Tinosorb S Lite Aqua. (INCI: Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine,Acrylates / C12-22 Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer). Here the oil-soluble filters were encapsulated with microplastics. In this way, lighter textures can be created. For ecological reasons, we advise against microplastics.

Chemical-mineral mixed forms with nanoparticles:

The filters Tinosorb M. and Tinosorb A2B (INCI: Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol (Nano) and Tris-Biphenyl Triazine (Nano))are new hybrid forms of filters. They are both chemical and mineral. Since these filters are based on nanoparticles, we cannot recommend them unreservedly.

Sun protection from Beyer & Sons

We now offer two sun protection products ourselves. Of course, we only use UV filters that we can recommend:
Dayshade Cream with SPF 30: A day care product with high UVA protection, astaxanthin and other antioxidants such as vitamin C.
Dayshade Fluid with SPF 50: A light oil fluid with high UV protection, astaxanthin and a particularly effective form of vitamin E.

Which sunscreen is coral-friendly?

There are UV filters that damage coral reefs. The filters that are currently being criticized are the 3 Os: Oxybene zone, Octocrylene, and Octinoxates.

The usage of Oxybene zone and Octinoxates is even banned in Hawaii. Octocrylene can be found in most products on the German market - and in high concentration. We recommend not using these filters.

There is also a new UV filter that contains microplastics: Tinosorb S Lite Aqua. In order to protect our oceans, we advise against this filter.

There are many uncertainties in the Reef Safe discussion. Not all filters have been examined. The common belief is that mineral filters, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are reef-friendly. However, there are also dissenting votes. We can safely say that the harmless UV filters from our list also minimize the risk to our seas.

One thing is very clear: it is best for the oceans if you cover your body with UV protection shirts.

When bathing, sunscreen gets into our oceans. It has not been conclusively clarified which filters are harmless to the environment.

Conclusion

The large number of UV filters is difficult to see through and several are often combined in one sunscreen. But if you take a closer look, you can take a big step towards compatible sun protection.

If you want to do without chemicals, you should use mineral filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. However, there are also chemical alternatives that are also harmless and even have advantages.

In the following list you will find all common UV filters. So nothing stands in the way of your safe sunbathing.

By the way, in our large sun cream test you will find further criteria for compatible sun protection. For example, fragrances should be avoided.

Sun protection: all UV filters tested

Recommendation?INCIFilter typepossible side effectsAlternative namesDescriptions
YesZinc Oxidemineral-Zinc oxide is (alongside titanium dioxide) one of the two physical UV filters. In contrast to chemical UV filters, physical filters are milder and more caring for our skin. This means that they are more suitable for sensitive skin, rosacea, eczema and allergies. They reflect the UV rays and thus protect the skin from damage. Zinc oxide protects against both UVA and UVB rays (broadband protection, also called "broad spectrum"). You can find more information about this ingredient in our article: http://www.beyer-soehne.de/zink-fuer -the-skin-in-acne /
NoTris-biphenyl
Triazines (nano)
chemical and
mineral
NanoparticlesTinosorb A2BTinosorb A2B is a broadband filter that is particularly water-resistant. Since it is used in nano size, we cannot recommend it unreservedly.
NoTitanium Dioxide (nano)mineralNanoparticles-We cannot unreservedly recommend nano-sized titanium dioxide.
YesTitanium dioxidemineral-Titanium dioxide is the second physical UV filter. It is also well tolerated and suitable for sensitive skin, skin diseases and allergies. Titanium dioxide protects against UVB and only part of the UVA rays. That is why it is often combined with other UVA filters in sun creams.
YesTerephthalylidene Dicamphor
Sulfonic acid
chemicallyMexoryl SX, EcamsuleMexoryl SX is similar to Mexoryl XL. It is a stable UVA filter that does not have any hormonal effects in the body and is therefore recommended. It also has a stabilizing effect on other chemical filters (e.g. Avobenzone). It can be found in L'Oréal products in combination with Mexoryl XL, as they have a strong, synergistic protective effect.
NoPolysilicone-15chemicallySiliconesParsol SLXParsol SLX is a UVB filter that is used relatively rarely. We do not recommend this, as silicones do not support the skin and its barrier.
NoOctyl methoxycinnamatechemicallyHormonal effectsOctinoxatesOctinoxate is a potent UVB filter that is very often used in sun creams. This filter is not recommended because it has hormonal effects and a certain toxicity in the body. In addition, Octinoxate is often used in combination with Oxybenzone - an unattractive combination that you should keep your hands off of!
NoOctocrylenechemicallyHormonal effects
Builds up in the organism
-Octocrylene primarily protects against UVB radiation. It also has a stabilizing effect on other UV filters. However, we do not recommend Octocrylene because it penetrates the skin and is deposited in the human organism. There it leads to increased oxidative stress (increased production of free radicals) and could also have hormone-active effects.
NoMethylene bis-benzotriazolyl
Tetramethylbutylphenol (nano)
chemical and mineralNanoparticlesTinosorb M.Like the other Tinosorb filters, Tinosorb M belongs to the generation of new chemical UV filters. It is UV-stable and has good UVA and UVB protection (broadband protection). It is also positive that Tinosorb M does not seem to have any hormonal effects in the body. It also stabilizes other UV filters and works synergistically with them to protect the skin. It is interesting that Tinosorb M is used in the form of small particles (similar to zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). According to its function, it acts as a physical and chemical UV filter. Since the nano-sized particles are used, we cannot unreservedly recommend this filter. There is a lack of long-term studies, especially with the Tinosorb filters. So if the nano-sized particles get into the body, there are risks that cannot yet be assessed.
NoIsoamyl
Methoxycinnamate
chemicallyHormonal effects
Allergies
Isoamy P-methoxycinnamateIsoamyl P-Methoxycinnamate is a hormonally active UV filter that can cause allergies (like all "-cinnamate" filters).
NoHomo saladschemicallyHormonal effects
Allergies
-Homosalate is a widely used UVB filter (especially in the USA) that is often used in waterproof textures due to its lipophilic (fat-loving) properties. We do not recommend this filter as a significant amount is absorbed by the applied portion and the substance has hormonal effects in the body. Even if this ingredient is generally considered mild, it is an ester of salicylic acid (salicylate). Some people are allergic to salicylates, so special care should be taken with them.
YesEthylhexyl
Triazone
chemicallyUnivul T 150Uvinul T 150 is an efficient UVB filter. Due to its size, there is no need to worry that it will penetrate the skin.
YesEthylhexyl
Salicylates
chemicallyAllergiesOctisilatesOctisilate is a relatively common UVB filter. It can give sunscreens water-resistant properties. Even if octisalate does not seem to have any hormonal effects in the body, we do not recommend it, because it is often combined with octinoxate due to its weak UV protection properties.
NoEthylhexyl
Dimethyl PABA
chemicallyAllergiesPadimate OPadimate O is a UVB filter that fortunately is rarely used these days. Filters based on PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) are known to cause allergies and are therefore rarely found in sunscreens today.
YesDrometrizole
Trisiloxanes
chemicallyMexoryl XLMexoryl XL is also one of the new chemical UV filters that are UV-stable and guarantee reliable UVA protection. It is combined with UVB filters to achieve broadband protection. Mexoryl XL has no hormonal effects in the body and is a chemical filter that we warmly recommend. It can be found in L'Oréal products, where it is very often found in combination with Mexoryl SX due to its synergistic protective effect.
YesDiethylhexyl
Butamido Triazone
chemicallyIscotrizinolIscotrizinol is a modern UV filter that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation.
YesDiethylamino hydroxybenzoyl
Hexyl benzoate
chemicallyUnivul A PlusUvinul A Plus is a potent and good UVA filter. This is used in sun creams in combination with UVB filters to ensure broadband protection.
YesButyl
Methoxydibenzoyl methanes
chemicallyAvobenzoneThe Avobenzone is the first widely used filter that protects against the entire UVA spectrum. Avobenzone is UV-unstable, which means that the substance "disintegrates" and becomes ineffective when exposed to UV. This was a problem to be increased in the past. Nowadays you hardly need to worry about this anymore, because Avobenzone is practically always with you other filters (Oxybenzone, Tinosorb S, Tinosorb M etc.) are stabilized and made powerful.
YesTo
Ethylhexyl oxyphenol
Methoxyphenyl
Triazines
chemicallyTinosorb S, bemotrizinolTinosorb S belongs to the generation of new chemical UV filters that are not only UV-stable, but also guarantee excellent UVA and UVB protection (broadband protection). It is also positive that Tinosorb S does not have any hormonal effects in the body. It also stabilizes other UV filters and works synergistically with them to protect the skin. It is definitely one of those chemical filters that we can fully recommend.
NoBenzophenone-5chemicallyHormonal effects
Allergies
Sulisobenzone sodiumThe sodium salt of benzophenone-4. S. benzophenone-4 or benzophenone-3.
NoBenzophenone-4chemicallyHormonal effects
Allergies
SulisobenzoneThis is a rarely used UVB filter that also protects against part of the UVA spectrum. Since this substance is closely related to Oxybenzone (see benzophenone-3), we advise against it.
NoBenzophenone-3chemicallyHormonal effects
Allergies
Oxybene zoneFortunately, Oxybenzone is rarely used in EU sun creams, but more often in make-up products such as BB, CC creams and foundations. It is primarily a UVB filter that also protects against a portion of the UVA spectrum. Although Oxybenzone stabilizes other UV filters (e.g. Avobenzone), we advise you to stay away from it. This substance is known to penetrate the skin to a large extent and to produce hormonal effects in the body. In addition, many people have an oxybenzone allergy. In this case, special care is required, because this ingredient is also contained in other cosmetics (e.g. nail polish remover, hairsprays)!
No4-methylbenzylidene
Camphor
chemicallyHormonal effectsEnzacamenEnzacamen is a rarely used UVB filter that also protects against infrared radiation. It is not recommended because it is suspected of having a potential carcinogenic (carcinogenic) effect.
NoZinc Oxide (nano)mineralNanoparticles-We cannot unreservedly recommend nano-sized zinc oxide.
NoBis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Acrylates / C12-22 Alkyl Methacrylate CopolymerchemicallyMicroplasticsTinosorb S Lite AquaWe are fundamentally against microplastics in cosmetics
YesPhenylene Bis-DiphenyltriazineschemicallyHas only been on the market since 2019. Chemically, however, it is very similar to the other modern chemical UV filters.

This article was updated in August 2019

We published our UV filter test for the first time in 2013. A large number of studies have now been added. This has resulted in us re-evaluating all filters. For the first time, we also show the disadvantages of mineral filters. In addition, the compatible chemical filters are now at least an equal choice for us. We are grateful to every reader for suggestions and further studies.

Sources and Studies

EWG - Nanoparticles in Sunscreens
EWG - The Trouble With Sunscreen Chemicals
Oxford Journals Toxicological Sciences - Small amounts of zinc from zinc oxide particles in sunscreens applied outdoors are absorbed through human skin.
Pharmaceutical Newspaper - Better Declaration Protects Consumers
Zinc Oxide Safety Studies - European Commission
University of Göttingen - Effects of endocrine disruptors on the prostate and seminal vesicle of the Sprague-Dawley rat

Scientific studies on Pubmed
Study on Benzophenone - Percutaneous absorption of benzophenone-3, a common component of topical sunscreens.
Study on UV radiation and skin aging - Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin
Study on infrared radiation - Effective photoprotection of human skin against infrared A radiation by topically applied antioxidants: results from a vehicle controlled, double-blind, randomized study.
Study on nanoparticles - Penetration of metallic nanoparticles in human full-thickness skin.
Study on Octocrylene - Contact and photocontact allergy to octocrylene: a review.
Study on Octocrylene - Octocrylene, an emerging photoallergenic.
Study on the shelf life of Octocrylene - Benzophenone Accumulates over Time from the Degradation of Octocrylene in Commercial Sunscreen Products
Study on photostability - Photostabilization of butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone) and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate by bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine (Tinosorb S), a new UV broadband filter.

 

Healthy skin ages more slowly and looks more beautiful.
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