Which is good news because the sunscreen you use might have them and you’d obviously like to know you’re safe. Right?
Quick science lesson for those who were busy watching reruns of Big Bang Theory: nanoparticles are particles with one or more dimension less than 100nm … smaller than the average skin cell, essentially. Nanoparticles are (and have been for many years) used in sun care, particularly physical/mineral sun blockers containing zinc oxide because when nano-ised, those ingredients are clear, instead of opaque and milky and unappealing for consumers like you and me and Shezzy next door.
Nanoparticles have been under scrutiny for a while due to their wee size, and the fear they are able to penetrate our skin cells, and cause free radical damage to the DNA… which can lead to shitty things like, oh, you know, cancer.
But new research shows that zinc oxide nanoparticles are fine. Our immune system breaks down the particles before they enter the blood stream. Great work, immune system! Now be better regarding cold sores, please.
As an enormous and evangelical fan of zinc oxide-based physical/mineral sunscreens (which block the UV rays from your skin, and are a far better choice for those worried about hyperpigmentation) over chemical ones (which absorb the UV rays) I was delighted to learn this. While the CSIRO deemed nanoparticles safe a while back, there was still a school of thought that perhaps the nanoparticles were entering the cells. If they didn’t enter the cells, though, all was well. And now we know they don’t.
Which is great news. It’s real unfun finding out that something we use (daily, for many) could be causing havoc with our health. Particularly as someone who actively tells women to use zinc oxide products. Admittedly, I was never personally too concerned, nanoparticles have never been proven to be a health risk, and our TGA is extremely tough on cosmetics and particularly sun care, but you of course always want to make sure that something you love isn’t secretly stabbing you in the back/skin cells. Of course, for peace of mind, there should probably be transparency (scuse the pun) of ingredients and any nano-ing thereof on all labels, and I’m sure in time there will be.
Important Thing: Just because a product features zinc oxide, doesn’t mean it uses nanoparticles. And chemical (non zinc oxide) sunscreens use nanoparticles, too – the biggest clue is if a sunscreen is clear: that’s generally when nanos are in play.
Yes, the research is zinc oxide specific, (there are other particles on nano levels in sunscreen) but as with the argument about Vitamin D (essentially all of our slip slop slapping means we’re a nation that is chronically deficient in Vitamin D, and as someone who IS low in vitamin D, I now try to get about 10-15 mins of sun a day ) I think the risk of not wearing sun protection (skin cancer, prematurely aged skin etc) especially in this country where old lady Ozone dare not wander, far outweighs these concerns. I’m not alone.
Just on zinc oxide physical sun care products, here are some I love and use: (on top of my serums and moisturisers each morning): O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF 30+ (tinted) or Aspect Hydra Shield SPF 15 and DermaQuest DermaMinerals On The Go Finishing Powder (excellent for the handbag to take shine down and reboot your sun protection real quick.)
And one I don’t:
Not since about 1987 anyway.