The “Best” Sunscreen (and what about the Image sunscreen change?).

RE: Manufacturer Response To New IMAGE Prevention SPF 30 Zinc 21% Formulation Dr. Irwin: Jeff here. I wrote to you last week re: the change in zinc content of the above product. I contacted IMAGE Skincare and their response was interesting: 1. Change in formulation is to “help protect against blue light that is emitted from mobile devices, televisions and computers.” 2. They acknowledge the thickness and suggest it “be mixed with one of our serums or moisturizers for a thinner consistency while still maintaining a nice glow and even skin tone.” 3. They say “most people are enjoying the new formula very much, knowing they are now receiving protection from blue light.” 4. The 18% formulation will no longer be available. My question to you is how dangerous is blue light? In your opinion, is this a marketing ploy? Brant McPherson was very helpful and sent me a replacement tube of the 18% formulation. I have since ordered 3 additional tubes before the supply runs out. It will be interesting to learn of your recommendation as a replacement sunscreen. Thank you for your assistance.

Hi Jeff  –  I loved your question and comment above.

I’m still looking into this.  So far…..and I’m keeping an open mind, this seems like an expense ploy to me.  I talked to our rep, regional sales manager, and sales director 2 weeks ago on a conference call.   The formula looks cheaper (the base) and they added 3% more zinc.  It’s not a good trade in my mind.  And are we really quibbling over 18% versus 21% zinc, except as a marketing tool?  It matters so much more if it’s applied correctly and often.

Why do I think this?   Zinc oxide is zinc oxide!  The differences are in the percentages, and in it’s “cosmetic elegance,” which is related to whether it’s a microparticle or a nanoparticle.  And the base makes a difference with how pleasant it is to use.   One of our key battles, even with active skin cancer patients, is getting them to use their sunscreen consistently!

What makes a great sunscreen!

  • High zinc (9-20%) – higher is better depending on your outdoor activities.  9% might be fine with an indoor job and an early morning walk, and not great if you lead trail hikes all day or surf.
  • Pleasant to use –  light or no fragrance, moisturizing without being sticky for normal to dry.   And a gel or non-comedogenic form for those with oily skin or acne.
  • Easy to spread –  not too stiff, too runny, or too sticky.
  • Cosmetic compatibility –  Not chalky, can go under makeup and not “pill,” and a universal tint version is nice.
  • Clear instructions for use.
  • A label that’s readable.

Why the Image sunscreen change isn’t great

  • Not clear why this is so great for blue light.  The extra 3% zinc is not enough different to make a difference
  • Chalkier and less spreadable
  • A base that contains fewer chemicals would be good, not the same or more. They aren’t great for us or the environment
  • Why add Shea nut extract?

Comments and observations always appreciated!

Hope this helps,

Dr. BI

Founder, SkinTour

Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center

Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!

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