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According to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, there are over 200 sunscreen manufacturers in the U.S. currently making over 4000 different sunscreen products.
Yet, despite all of this selection, the formulas are not as varietal as they are for our European and Asian counterparts. In Europe and Japan, sunscreens are considered to be cosmetics, not over-the-counter drugs like they are in the U.S. For this reason, there are more active ingredients allowed:
- In the U.S., there are only 17 approved active sunscreen ingredients.
- In Europe, there are 28.
- In Japan, there are more than 40.
Ingredients Not Allowed in the U.S.
As of June 2012, here is a list of some of the ingredients permitted in Europe and Japan but not in the U.S.:
- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor
- Tinosorb M
- Mexoryl XL
- Uvinul T 150
- Uvinul A Plus
- Uvasorb HEB
- Parsol SLX
Of these ingredients, I think we will be seeing the most from Tinosorb M and S in the years to come. Thankfully, Tinosorb S is now available in the U.S.
One Ingredient to Make it to America: Tinosorb S
Unlike some other chemical sunscreens, Tinosorb is highly stable, so it doesn’t break down in the presence of light or air.
Yet, the best part of Tinosorb is that it is the most effective UV protection available for both UVA and UVB rays, according to a 2007 study from the European journal Pharmazie.
Tinosorb’s secret? It is not just a physical sunscreen that prevents UV rays from hitting the skin, or just a chemical sunscreen that stops transmitted rays from damaging the skin – but actually does both! That’s right – Tinosorb shields and protects the skin. That’s like a man who stands up for you in public and cuddles with you while watching The Notebook. Best of both worlds!
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. That said, it has been on the market for several years in Europe, and irritation studies have been minimal.
Products You Can Get in the U.S. with Tinosorb
Here are some great options:
- Best Drugstore Product: Eucerin Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50 ($22.95, Amazon.com). Formulated with Tinosorb S, this lotion is ultralight, which is great for repeated applications.
- Best Luxury Product: Avene Very High Protection SPF 50+ ($27.95, Amazon.com). Also rather light, this product has a luxurious feel. I prefer it for the face, as it is an emulsion that wears well under makeup.
While many dermatologists still swear by physical sunscreens, like zinc and titanium oxide, there are still many patients who are constantly looking for alternatives. There are many new options brewing on the horizon that are currently only available in Europe and Japan, but one great chemical sunscreen, Tinosorb S, has made it to our shores. I highly recommend it for anyone who dislikes zinc and titanium oxide and who wants an effective, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB chemical sunscreen!
What do you think about buying sunscreen overseas? Or Tinosorb? Let us know in Comments!