Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin

May 06, 2011 1 Comment by

If you have sensitive skin, you’re probably particularly careful about the products you put on your skin, including sunscreen. Since sunscreen is a necessity whenever under the sun, it’s important to find a reliable one that works well with your skin type. Vanicream skin care, formulated by Pharmaceutical Specialties, Inc. (PSI) in Minnesota, is a special skin care line created for those with extremely sensitive skin.  When Conrad Thompson and Ed Mansfield, the founders of the company, were working as pharmacists at the Mayo Clinic in the early 70s, several dermatologists suggested they start a company that could provide over-the-counter skin care for people with sensitive skin. Thus in 1975, PSI (and Vanicream) were created! Since the beginning, their company has formed a line of products that avoid chemicals that dermatologists considered undesirable and sensitizing to the skin, such as fragrance, masking fragrance, dyes, lanolin, parabens, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing preservatives. Now you know why Vanicream is one (of several) of Coolibar’s favorite sunscreen providers!

Commonly asked questions about Vanicream and Sunscreen answered by sunscreen expert, Brian Leary, Director of Marketing at PSI (Vanicream).

Founders Ed and Conrad Then and NowWhat skin types does Vanicream work best on? 

Vanicream Sunscreens are suitable for any skin type, but they are specially formulated for sensitive skin. 

What’s a good sunscreen for sensitive skin or acne prone skin?

All of the Vanicream Sunscreens are good for sensitive skin.  They are developed with an emphasis on physical sunscreen ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  The Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 35 Sport is oil free making it ideal for acne prone skin.

How does Vanicream sunscreen hold up in water or against sweat? 

We recommend the Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 35 for outdoor activities such as swimming and running. 

What should you look for in a safe sunscreen? 

You want to look for sunscreens that emphasize the physical blockers, but you also want to pay attention to the inactive ingredients.  If you have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid fragrances, or certain preservatives such as parabens or formaldehyde releasers. 

What is the difference between a physical sunscreen and a chemical sunscreen? Is Vanicream Sunscreen physical or chemical?

Physical sunscreens such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on the skin and reflect UV rays.  Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays.   Both offer protection.  

Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 30, SPF 60 and SPF 30 Lip Protectant contain only zinc and/or titanium making them physical sunscreens.  Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 35 Sport contains zinc oxide and octinoxate, so it is a combination physical/chemical sunscreen.

What is a safe age to start using sunscreen on children? Is Vanicream safe for babies and young children? 

FDA does not recommend sunscreen use on infants under 6 months of age.  Vanicream Sunscreens are very safe for children older than 6 months. 

How do SPF ratings work?  

An SPF rating is the ratio of the time of ultraviolet radiation exposure necessary to produce minimally detectable erythema (sunburn) in sunscreen protected skin to that time required to produce erythema in unprotected skin.  So if your skin would burn in 5 minutes without sunscreen, an SPF 15 sunscreen should give you 15 times that protection or 75 minutes.  

What is the best SPF to give you proper sun protection?

An SPF 30 will block about 96% of the suns UVB rays.  But this is only if you apply enough to the skin.  For this reason, some dermatologists will recommend higher SPF sunscreens, knowing that their patients may not apply enough.  It is important to remember that SPF only applies to protection for UVB rays.  For proper sun protection you need to choose sunscreens that protect from both UVB and UVA rays.

What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays? Does Vanicream block both?

UVB rays are the shorter rays that can cause sunburn.  UVA rays are longer rays and are thought to penetrate deeper into the skin and cause premature aging and possible skin cancer.  All Vanicream Sunscreens protect from both UVB and UVA rays.

Does Vanicream leave behind a white residue like some sunscreens do?

You may notice a little white residue upon application, but this disappears quickly on most skin tones.

What about the issue of nano particles in physical sunscreens. Should we be concerned? Does Vanicream contain nano particles? 

While Vanicream Sunscreens contain micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the particles are not considered nano.  That being said, the most recent studies on this issue have found that nano sized zinc and titanium do not penetrate the skin’s layers and therefore do not get into the bloodstream.

With so many products on the market it’s hard to choose.  What is the differentiating factor for Vanicream products, both sunscreens and moisturizers?

Vanicream Sunscreens are going to provide UVB/UVA protection and not expose the user to unnecessary irritants that could be problematic for people with sensitive skin.  They are non-comedogenic and safe to use every day.

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