Honest spf issue in SNS

Hi!
Hope everyone had a good weekend. I just wanted to share/ know how people think about the Honest Company's spf issue going on right now. I am pretty sure not everyone gets the same burning effect on their skin.. what do you think about it? I assume you could either be working in cosmetic industry or want to be in this industry.. Any thoughts?

Comments

  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Have you read the Forbes article?
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited August 2015
    I think the Honest Company is a fear based marketer who, ironically, is producing less safe products due to artificial restrictions they put on their formulators.

    Consumers should stick to standard cosmetics and OTC products and stay away from any company that claims or implies their products are more safe.  They are lying.

    For the curious, here is the Forbes article.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    This is a real cautionary tale for formulators and marketers alike. In their desire to make a really safe, "natural" sunscreen, they shot themselves in the foot.

    There's another Forbes article here: Here's how ineffective sunscreens get by the FDA

    Unlike the Forbes articles, I know exactly what went wrong, and why.

    Initially, the Forbes article tells me that they had made an anhydrous ointment that had 20% non-nano sized zinc oxide, beeswax, and maybe petrolatum. There were many complaints about the heavy, greasy character, and the whiteness on skin. So, they decided to reformulate.

    First, from what I can tell, there were four marketing restrictions placed on the reformulation of this product: 
    1) Use natural ingredients where possible, organic is better than not.
    2) Use non-nano sized zinc oxide as the only sunscreen ingredient.
    3) Do not use any emulsifiers.
    4) Make it feel nice/non-greasy on skin

    Due to these restrictions, the formulators chose to continue make an anhydrous ointment, which was their first mistake. I'll explain why in a later post.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Continued...

    Now, the next thing to talk about is how the FDA requires sunscreens to be tested. It's very important that all sunscreens are subjected to exactly the same conditions, so the FDA is very precise about how the sunscreens are applied. 

    If I recall correctly, a 1" square piece of hairless skin is marked off, and then the lab tech carefully uses a micro-dispenser to deposit 100 tiny droplets, spaced evenly across the square inch. Then, a trained technician carefully spreads those micro-drops into an even layer on the skin. No "rubbing-in" is permitted. This permits an even film on the skin, and is as close to a consistent procedure that works for every sunscreen as you can get. But...the film created is much thicker than any consumer would ever apply.

    When actual consumers apply sunscreen, there's a strong, nearly universal tendency to spread the sunscreen around until it starts to feel sticky/grabby/hard to spread. This is actually one of the advantages of making an emulsion sunscreen - we can formulate the oil phase, which will remain on skin, to be a tough, difficult to remove/smear, initially tacky film. Then, we can let the water phase provide the initial smooth emolliency, spreadability, and good skin feel - but those are self-limiting - they only last until the water evaporates. So, at some point in the skin application process, enough water evaporates that the consumer starts to feel more of the oil phase, and knows it's time to stop spreading.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Continued again...

    OK, so what does this have to do with Honest Co. and their reformulated sunscreen?

    Honest Co. was able to get a SPF 30 with their reformulated 9.3% zinc oxide anhydrous sunscreen solely due to the FDA-prescribed heavy application method. Without that method, there would be no easy way to compare one sunscreen to another, but in this case it backfired badly. Why?

    Well, let's look back to the reformulation constraints, and the choices this forced on the formulators. The first huge error came about when "natural" ingredients were insisted upon. Without this constraint, there were many synthetic ingredients that could have insured a smooth, relatively thick,but non-greasy feeling film on the skin, even with an anhydrous formula. Requiring a "natural" ingredient wherever possible ruled out using any of these.

    Without using synthetic ingredients, the best Honest Co's formulators could come up with for a base was a mixture of Beeswax, Shea Butter, and a bunch of natural oils. I'm sure that this felt great, but this was their biggest mistake yet. Why? because this reformulated formula spreads and spreads and spreads, without ever getting sticky/tacky until there's an incredibly thin film on skin - much, much thinner than the FDA-mandated sunscreen test tested.

    This ties in to two more related mistakes:
    1) Saying, on the package, "does not whiten". A consumer, seeing this, would be naturally inclined to rub in the ointment and spread it out until the film actually did not whiten. But this wouldn't happen until the film on skin was much thinner than it should have been. Why links to - 
    2) Using non-nano zinc oxide. Nano-sized zinc oxide is translucent, sometimes even clear, on skin, even when it's applied thickly enough to get a SPF 30. Without that version of Zinc Oxide, enough non-nano Zinc Oxide on skin to get a SPF 30 is fairly white and unattractive.

    So, this all boils down to the consumer complaints coming from the people who used this and believed the non-whitening claim - who then used so little of the ointment, and rubbed it so thinly that it was effectively worthless. Not everyone rubbed it in so thinly, so not everybody lost as much protection, but I'd bet serious amounts of money that this is what happened.

    (Interesting note - If they'd been savvy enough, the formulators could have effectively cheated - non-nano zinc oxide could have been listed on the label, since that was what went into the formula, but they could have specified enough milling/grinding that they would have wound up with translucent nano-sized zinc oxide in their formula - without ever having to say so)
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
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