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Sun Protection Report

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: December 5, 2006, from the December 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) released a scientific white paper earlier this year on the application of nanotechnology in personal care products, including cosmetics and certain OTC drug products, specifically sunscreens. The report addresses the issue of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide used in nanoparticle form in sunscreens.

“This report directly addresses the science behind the use of nanoparticles in personal care products,” said John Bailey, PhD, executive vice president of science at CTFA. “The science strongly indicates that nanoparticles applied topically to the skin in lotions or creams are safe and provide clear benefits to consumers.”

In a press release announcing the report, the CTFA said sunscreens, some of which utilize sun-protecting nanoparticles that help prevent skin cancer, are required to go through an extensive FDA review and approval process to demonstrate they are safe and effective. The nanoparticles in sunscreens—titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—are established, efficacious sunscreen filters that have been on the market for decades. In 1996, FDA concluded that smaller, micronized particles of titanium dioxide are not new substances and that there is no evidence demonstrating that these micronized particles are unsafe.

Nanosized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—unlike the larger particle size ingredients—form a transparent rather than a thick, white coating, which leads to greater consumer acceptance and use of the products. The nanosize of the particles also enables them to better reflect and scatter certain harmful UV rays, according to the CTFA release.

“The nanoparticles used in sunscreens provide important and unique sun-protection benefits, helping reduce the risk of skin cancer,” Bailey said. “These sunscreen ingredients have been used safely for many years, and have been evaluated and approved by the FDA and independent scientists. They are transparent and aesthetically pleasing and, therefore, encourage greater consumer use.”