CREAM? GEL? SPRAY? IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
Cream emulsions still tend to make the best sunscreens. Why?
- Active sunscreen ingredients readily mix into a cream
- Water resistance is better
- Higher SPFs are easier to achieve and are more stable.
- Furthermore, cream bases stay on the skin longer, allowing active ingredients to diffuse into the underlying skin during that time or to stay on the surface of the skin for longer periods of time.
Spray formulations sound ideal but — also true for gels and wipes — are generally aqueous or hydro-alcoholic and therefore wipe off more readily, evaporate with exposure to heat and sun, and leave a discontinuous film which reduces their effectiveness. Because of chemical and formulation issues, high SPFs are very difficult to achieve in sprays and gels. If they are achieved, they may be unstable because of the reduced effectiveness from the discontinuous film.
For sunscreen spray products, the US FDA has requested “additional data to establish effectiveness”.
Sprays can also pose a concern when inhaled unintentionally, which is a risk with any spray due to particle size and particularly with sunscreen sprays as they are sprayed over the face and body.
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