Little Green Angels

Badger Natural Suncream

Why Badger Sunscreen?

According to the Environmental Working Group's Safe Cosmetics Database, Badger makes one of the world's safest and most effective sunscreens. Most recently, we were recently rated in the top 1% out of over 900 commonly available products. Not bad!

Badger is a performance sunscreen. By this we mean:

  • Stays on the skin when you sweat or play in the water
  • Won't run and drip into your eyes when you sweat
  • Allows your skin to breathe
  • Is strong and effective enough to protect you from extreme conditions
  • Low to no irritating ingredients.

So how do we make this great stuff?

Badger Sunscreen uses micronized zinc as its sunscreening agent. Zinc Oxide is a mineral that provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. It is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties and is considered the safest and most protective sunscreening ingredient. While non micronized zinc oxide leaves a strong residue on the skin, like white paint, micronized zinc oxide creates the same barrier in a form that appears far more transparent and less whitening when rubbed in.

The micronized zinc oxide in our sunscreen is produced by high temperature processing of minerals that contain zinc. Currently, our micronized zinc oxide is coated with triethoxycaprylylsilane, an inert ingredient derived from silica. The rest of our sunscreen ingredients are 100% natural and most of the ingredients are USDA certified organic. Our unique combination of micronized zinc oxide and naturally protective ingredients - Extra Virgin Olive and Jojoba oils, & Shea and Cocoa Butters - protect your family from the sun's damaging rays.

The product Development Badgers work hard to ensure that every ingredient we use is processed without chemicals. Badger sunscreens do not contain fragrances, preservatives or dyes, and they are water resistant for 40 minutes.

Other sunscreens on the market contain chemical agents that do not provide broad spectrum protection, and many even contain chemical ingredients that are known toxins. We don't use any of this bad stuff!

 

Why is Badger sunscreen formulated with citrus essential oils?

Many of you have asked us why our sunscreen has citrus oils in the formulation when citrus oils are known to be photosensitizing. The simple answer is that we use very small quantities of the citrus essential oils and the percentages are so low that the oils are not considered photosensitizing. In addition, Lime Essential Oil, which is of particular concern, is no longer photosensitizing when it is Steam Distilled. We only use Steam Distilled Lime Essential Oil. In the very low percentages that we use (>.032% each by weight), the citrus essential oils can safely be used to enhance the fragrance of the product without any photosensitivity concern.

 

What is the difference between “Physical Barrier” and “Chemical” Sunscreens?

Physical Barrier Sunscreens (like Badger's) form a film on top of the skin that reflects or scatters UV light. Most physical barrier sunscreens contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. We choose micronized zinc oxide for our sunscreens because we feel it is the safest & most effective option - and has been used successfully for hundreds of years.

UV light is divided into three wavelength bands: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA and UVB are the two that reach the earth and Physical Barrier sunscreens are effective at blocking both. By the way, our sunscreen is in a spectrum of protection that also blocks UVC light. So this would be a good option for astronauts and pilots, who are also exposed to UVC - no kidding!

Chemical Sunscreens differ from physical barrier sunscreens as they absorb UV rays before they can do any damage. Usually, single chemical ingredients protect against either UVA or UVB, but not for both. So for broad-spectrum protection, you would need to choose a chemical sunscreen containing more than one active ingredient, most often two or three. Chemical sunscreens can be absorbed into the skin, are more likely to cause irritation or allergy, and can degrade over time.

What is an SPF rating anyway?

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measurement of how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays, the kind of radiation that causes sunburn and is thought to contribute to some types of skin cancer.

Example: If your skin would normally burn after 10 minutes in the sun, applying an SPF 15 sunscreen would allow you to stay in the sun without burning for approximately 150 minutes (a factor of 15 times longer). This is a rough estimate and depends on skin type, the intensity of sunlight, and the type of activity. But SPF isn't quite that simple. The scale is not linear: SPF 30 actually only blocks 5% more UVB radiation than SPF 15. For best protection, experts do recommend a minimum SPF rating of 15, and applying sunscreen generously and frequently.

The SPF rating only tells you only about UVB protection, not about harmful UVA rays. UVA is the wavelength of sunlight that penetrates deeper into the skin without causing surface burning, but has the potential to release free radicals and perhaps cause skin melanoma and photo aging. Always choose sun protection that is broad spectrum - blocks both UVB and UVA wavelengths. Just because a sunscreen has a high SPF, it does not mean you are being protected from damaging UVA rays.

Badger SPF sunscreens are broad spectrum: strong enough to prevent burning for a reasonable length of time with the power to block UVA radiation -- something that many higher SPF products cannot match!

UVA Protection

 

UVA: Long-wave solar rays of 320-400 nm. Penetrate the skin more deeply (into the Dermis, 2nd layer of skin); cause photo aging, actinic damage (wrinkled, leathery, variously pigmented skin); and can contribute to skin cancers including melanoma. Rays are the same strength year-round.

UVB: Short-Wave solar rays of 290-320 nm. Penetrate only the epidermis; cause sunburn; and considered to be the main cause of basal and squamous cell carcinomas, as well as a significant factor in melanomas. Different strengths depending on Sun's location, and can be lessened when deflected by clouds.

UVC: Reflected by the Ozone layer, does not reach the Earth.

Critical Wavelength: an international rating system for UVA protection. The point at which the sunscreen allows 10% of the rays to penetrate is defined as Critical Wavelength. A sunscreen with a critical wavelength over 370nm is considered by the FDA to provide excellent UVA protection.

Badger SPF30 Sunscreen has a critical wavelength of 377nm and Badger SPF15 Sunscreen has a critical wavelength of 376nm.


 

What about those Nanoparticles I keep hearing about?

At Badger, we take any potential health concerns very seriously, so we have researched this issue extensively.

We use zinc oxide in our sunscreens because it provides a physical barrier, reflecting damaging UVB and UVA rays before they reach the living tissues in your skin. Mineral sunscreens, like zinc oxide, are more effective and much safer than chemical sunscreens, which have been shown to interfere with human hormonal systems and to harm marine life.(1) We have chosen to use such small particles of zinc oxide because they are more transparent and less whitening. Remember the lifeguard’s white nose coat? That’s from larger zinc oxide particles.

For the record, the US Government defines a nanoparticle as a solid particle between 1 and 100nm (nanometers or billionths of a meter). Badger uses micronized zinc oxide with average mean and median particle sizes both greater than 100nm. These particles range in size from about 70nm to 300nm, so yes, a fraction of our zinc oxide is nanoparticles. Remember nanoparticles refers to a very fine powder, not to be confused with ‘nanotechnology’, which refers to atomically precise devices that are far more “science fiction” than anything Badger uses. Our zinc oxide particles are actually larger than those used in many other products on the market.

Well intentioned groups such as “Friends of the Earth” and “Consumer Reports” popularize the nanoparticle controversy by highlighting possible potential health risks caused by particles entering deeper tissues or blood. To begin with, the particular zinc oxide Badger uses is lightly coated (2-3% of particle weight (0.3-0.6% of product weight)) with triethoxycaprylylsilane(2)) rendering it inert or less reactive to biological systems. Reviews of the scientific and regulatory literature provide compelling evidence that nano sized particles of zinc oxide remain on the skin’s surface and do not penetrate the skin.(1)(3) Furthermore, there are no studies showing that nano sized particles of zinc oxide can penetrate human skin. The FDA has declared the use of nanoparticles safe in cosmetics and sunscreens and they are “not aware of any safety concerns regarding the material.”(4) In 2006, the German and Australian governments both acknowledged scientific studies showing that micronized zinc oxide does not penetrate the outer layer of skin and they regard it safe to use in topical sunscreens.(5) (6) Many conscientious media organizations such as The Environmental Working Group and National Geographic’s “The Green Guide” are very skeptical of nanoparticles yet they acknowledge their safety and efficacy in mineral based sunscreens and recommend them over chemical based sunscreens.(1) (7) In fact, the Environmental Working Group lists Badger’s SPF 30 sunscreen in the top 1% of all sunscreens for safety and efficacy.(8)

Despite the controversy over micronized zinc oxide based sunscreens we at Badger firmly believe that they are better for your body than either chemical based sunscreens or exposing your skin to the sun without sunscreen. The best protection from the sun is to stay in the shade or wear protective clothing and a hat. But if you’re going expose your skin to the sun you should protect it, and a mineral based sunscreen is the safest and most effective means to that end.

References:

(1) Environmental Working Group – Special Investigation on Nanotechnology & Sunscreens

(2) This is the only unnatural ingredient in any of Badger’s products. We believe so strongly in the safety and efficacy of mineral sunscreens that we are willing use this one man made substance. Learn more about it on the EWG's Cosmetic Database.

(3)Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association’s Comments to the FDA

(4)FDAs Nanotechnology FAQ

(5)Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (English website)

(6)Australian Government, Department of Health and Aging, Therapeutic Goods Administration

(7) National Geographic’s ‘The Green Guide’ article “Screen Test: Reading the Micro-Fine Print"

(8) Skin Deep – Cosmetic Safety Database - Find Your Sunscreen

Links to some helpful web sites regarding sun protection.

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