Frequently Asked Questions
While the Zinc Oxide never becomes ineffective, HAL’s natural and organic formula can eventually oxidize and become rancid. We have not observed this to occur readily since we fortify the formula with vegetable vitamin E, which is an excellent antioxidant, good both for your skin and for preventing rancidity. Zinc Oxide also acts as a preservative, since in addition to it being the best and safest sunscreen on the planet, it is also antimicrobial and antifungal. (And is the number one active ingredient recommended by pediatricians for treating diaper rash. Diaper rash is generally caused by a fungus. Try our Dream Crème Diaper Rash Treatment!)
Sunscreen manufacturers can be misleading by saying they use micronized particles because nano is still technically in the micron size range. There’s also a difference between ‘micronized’ and ‘micron-sized’ because micronization is a process that grinds larger zinc oxide particles into smaller ones and always results in a significant number of nanoparticles. Confusing? Unfortunately it is a bit. The zinc oxide HAL uses is in the micron-size range, but the particles are produced via a special process to be that size directly, instead of being ground down, and thereby our zinc oxide does not contain ANY nanoparticles.
All useful mineral sunscreens are either in the micron-sized range or nano as anything larger than the micron size becomes the size of fine sand which is useless in a sunscreen preparation and impossible to evenly apply.
For reference, 100 microns is 0.1 millimeter, which is the size of a fine grain of sand and as a sunscreen, would be useless because it would be impossible to evenly apply (and gritty!). All mineral sunscreens on the market are micron-sized, micronized or nano. Some companies advertise they are using micronized particles, but may still be using nanoparticles because nanoparticles are technically also a finer version of the micronized form. The only way for you to know that a sunscreen active ingredient is not nano is if the company provides you a particle size number. Zinc oxide in HAL products are in the micron range (0.26 micron = 260nm) and are non-nano.
Nanoparticles have received some bad press recently by the media, largely based on some publications about other nanotechnology based compounds (Buckminsterfullerene, otherwise known as buckyballs or C-60) that are, however, entirely unrelated to sunscreen active ingredients. The primary question regarding nanoparticle sunscreen ingredients is whether or not they have an increased capacity to cross the skin and get absorbed into the blood. HAL has not encountered any well controlled scientific experiments or publications that state this to be the case, however there hasn’t been a large amount of research.
The answer to the nanoparticle question therefore remains somewhat uncertain. It’s HAL’s ethical policy to always use common sense. The use of nanoparticles does not increase sunscreen effectiveness significantly, so HAL avoids nanoparticle zinc oxide in all of our products because there’s no reason to expose our customers to increased risk.
Titanium Dioxide’s UV absorption spectrum is not as broad spectrum in UVA and UVB as is Zinc Oxide; Zinc Oxide is a better absorber across more wavelengths which results in better, safer protection for you and your family.
Titanium Dioxide creates more free radicals that do oxidative damage to your body and skin cells, and increases aging processes.
Zinc Oxide is the only sunscreen active ingredient that’s been tested and FDA approved for use on babies under 6 months of age and children – this illustrates its high degree of safety.
Titanium Dioxide contains titanium, which is just another toxic heavy metal in our bodies; Zinc is a critical mineral nutrient. You won’t find Titanium in your vitamins, but you certainly will find Zinc.
HAL thinks this practice is unethical, and we’d rather market a product with a lower SPF than it may otherwise be at another lab, focus on education and encourage proper sunscreen use with regular reapplication, rather than mislead our customers with an inflated SPF value and effectively elevate their skin cancer risk.
Since no real regulation exists, the sole way consumers can determine whether or not a product is safe and good for them to use is to read ingredient labels and know something about ingredients to avoid. HAL has chosen to make this easy by exclusively using simple to understand, edible grade and common ingredients that offer superb nourishment and protection for our skin and bodies as a whole.
HAL has also established a very strict definition of what constitutes ‘natural.’
In order for an ingredient to be deemed natural by HAL’s rigorous standards it must be directly derived from a living organism via a sustainable process and free of petrochemicals, or is a mineral that has a proven safety record for use on and in the human body, such as with our spring water and non-nanoparticle zinc oxide. HAL’s ingredients are of the highest quality, chosen specifically to ensure good health and environmental sustainability.
HAL also makes a tinted version that uses the biomineral iron oxide to provide a flesh-colored tint that reduces the chalkiness of the regular SPF formula. Iron oxide is the same mineral that makes blood look red. Many of our customers find this more aesthetically pleasing. We may be releasing additional tinted products in the future to better match the skin tones of sunscreen users. Iron oxide is also the primary tint used in the highly popular mineral makeups.
Zinc Oxide is, however, an extremely misunderstood active ingredient in the suncare industry. Most manufacturers, dermatologists and media report that zinc oxide reflects and scatters UV radiation, an assumption they make because it looks white. This is completely wrong. It looks white because it does indeed reflect and scatter visible light, however it behaves entirely differently in the UV spectrum. It would look black in the UV spectrum because it absorbs UV radiation via a process of electron excitation called band-gap absorption. Since energy always has to go somewhere, and UV is quite strong, zinc oxide absorbs UV and turns it into comparably harmless infrared, which it disposes of as heat.
Comparably, one of the issues with titanium dioxide is that although it absorbs UV, it cannot convert it as easily into heat, instead dumping the absorbed energy on nearby electrons and creating free radicals that cause oxidative damage to your DNA and other critical cellular structures.
Petrochemical sunscreens penetrate the skin, resulting in bioaccumulation and systemic exposure. They often end up in your or your children’s blood, and can accumulate in fat deposits. These compounds are toxic in themselves and will do direct DNA damage over time. Many of them also mimic estrogen in our bodies, which is associated with numerous diseases, including cancer and early puberty in young girls. Many fail to biodegrade, can accumulate in the water supply and ocean sediments, feminize fish and damage coral. You will find when you travel to tropical locales that most aquatic parks have banned petrochemical sunscreens for this reason. You can use HAL(R) in these parks however because it doesn’t contain the banned chemicals.
Using petrochemical sunscreens trades UV-induced damage for chemical-induced damage. Although they absorb UV in certain wavelengths, no single petrochemical sunscreen is broad spectrum. Petrochemical sunscreens also do not convert UV energy into harmless energy as well as Zinc Oxide does. Instead, UV energy can ‘photodegrade’ the active ingredients. This means break chemical bonds and effectively not only inactivate the UV absorbing capacity of the molecule, but also create reactive free radicals that further damage your body.
Petrochemicals used in sunscreen products result in extremely high exposure levels (thousands to millions of times!) compared to other environmental contaminants present in our air, food and water, yet using a zinc oxide-based sunscreen such as HAL(R) is a simple way to limit the risks associated with such chemical contaminant exposure.
Since petrochemical sunscreens are photosensitive and their chemistry can be damaged by UV light, they often create additional free radicals that react with other biochemicals in your skin. In addition to being a precursor for the development of cancer, these irreversible chemical changes can cause a severe inflammatory response in your skin that may be red and very painful, it’s effectively a chemical burn.
Terms that were excluded from the approved marketing language in the 1999 monograph but are still often used by unethical companies seeking to mislead their customers about the effectiveness of their products are:
Implies the product blocks the sun. No suncare product blocks the sun entirely, they only provide a
measure of screening, which does indeed result in some UV exposure and subsequent damage.
Because no sunscreen product can possibly be waterproof, all will wash off eventually. Be wary of
sunscreen manufacturers who make this claim
– they are in violation of FDA law established to keep consumers safer.
Same reason as waterproof.
“All day protection”
No sunscreen performs throughout the entire day; they either wash off or photodegrade and become useless UV absorbers.
Effectively, sunscreen manufacturers that use these terms are not only violating FDA labeling law, but also actively increasing skin cancer rates because consumers think they are more protected than they actually are and expose their bodies to longer duration UV damage as a result.
The FDA announced in June 2011 that they would be enforcing the 1999 OTC monograph rules on labeling beginning in the middle of 2012. HAL views this as a positive development, as HAL will no longer be as disadvantaged in the marketplace as a result of our ethical marketing policies compared to the competition.
It is for these reasons that the American Academy of Dermatology recommends you use an SPF 30 sunscreen and reapply about every two hours, or more often if you swim, sweat or even roll over on your towel.
CEO and Chief Visionary
P.O. Box 896 Hanalei, HI 967144