When is alcohol in skincare a good thing? Are there good and bad silicones in products? And what’s the deal with avobenzone? We’re breaking down your biggest questions about some of the ingredients in sunscreen and ones we use, right here.
Putting together the perfect Supergoop! sunscreen is the ultimate balancing act since our formulas go way beyond your typical SPF. You can learn more about the ins and outs of our formulation process here, but let us just go ahead and say that there’s a (very intentional) reason behind each and every ingredient we do – or don’t – choose to use.
We do, however, still get asked a lot about why we’ve decided to go with certain ones, and here we’re telling you why, with the help of our head of product development, Sofia.
1. Avobenzone: I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about avobenzone. What is it and is it safe?
Avobenzone is a chemical sunscreen active that can be found in all of our chemical formulas, including best sellers like Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 and PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 50. It’s the only chemical sunscreen active that provides both UVA1 and UVA2 protection (which is a fancy way of saying that it provides the right level of UV protection) that’s approved for use by the FDA. As for its safety, it’s rated green (aka safe) by the EWG, and after research, it’s not known to be an endocrine disruptor or lead to any harmful effects in the body.
But this is where avobenzone’s reputation gets tricky… You may have heard something about it needing to be “stabilized” in order for it to be effective, and that’s true! So, our product development team makes sure it’s properly stabilized in each and every sunscreen that contains it. The avobenzone in our formulas is stabilized through the use of photostabilizers that help maintain the efficacy of the formula. Some of the agents we use are Octocrylene, Polyester-25, Polyester-8, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate and others.
2. Alcohol: Why do you include alcohol in some of your products? And is it safe?
Let’s start off by saying there really is no bad alcohol that’s used in skincare; it’s all about how much alcohol is used and whether or not it’s a safe amount.
You may have read some iffy things about “simple alcohol” (ex. denatured alcohol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol or methanol), because when used alone, this type of alcohol can cause dryness and irritation. However, when used at the right concentration and with the right blend of ingredients, this alcohol typically doesn’t negatively affect skin, and it can even help other ingredients work better. In fact, we use denatured alcohol in our Defense Refresh (Re)Setting Mist SPF 40 because if we didn’t, the mist would spray out completely wet and not act as the lightweight makeup setting spray that it’s intended to be. We also use simple alcohol in Glow Oil SPF 50 as a solvent to ensure that it sprays onto skin without feeling too greasy. And in our fan-favorite PLAY Antioxidant Mist SPF 50, simple alcohol is used so that the mist can be applied onto wet skin (a key benefit!).
Another type of alcohol you’ll see in some of our products is “fatty alcohol” (ex. cetearyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol or lauryl alcohol), which helps skin retain moisture. You’ll find types of fatty alcohol in formulas like City Serum SPF 30 and PLAY Body Mousse.
Finally, the last type of alcohol you’ll find in some of our products like Superscreen Daily Moisturizer SPF 40 is aromatic alcohol (ex. benzyl alcohol and phenethyl alcohol). They’re typically naturally occuring in essential oils and can be used as preservatives or antimicrobial agents. We use phenethyl alcohol as part of the preservative system in Superscreen.
3. Silicones: What’s the deal with silicones? Why do you use them in some of your products?
Ah, silicones… One of the most hotly debated ingredients in skincare! Silicone is a synthetic substance that’s made of silicon, oxygen and other elements. We use silicones in some products, like Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 and Mattescreen SPF 40, for really good reasons. You’ll notice a silicone in the ingredient list when you see any ingredient that ends in “-one,” like dimethicone and methicone. To help clarify the truth about them, here’s a list of what silicones do and what they don’t do.
What Silicones Do:
- Improve the efficacy of the sunscreens. They help disperse the sunscreen actives (specially mineral ones) more evenly, so that you get an even layer of protection.
- Provide the priming benefits of filling in fine lines and wrinkles, smoothing the skin and creating an even canvas for makeup to adhere to. They also help with long-lasting wear.
- Help provide water resistance since they have a hydrophobic nature.
- Improve the texture of some formulas (silicones can help reduce the oily and sticky feel of some sunscreen actives).
What Silicones Don’t Do (but this is why they get a bad rap, btw):
- Clog your pores. Silicones don’t create an occlusive barrier on the skin, they form a “film” that’s flexible, breathable and protective. They actually work very well on acne-prone skin.
- Irritate your skin. Unless you’re allergic to them, silicones have a very low occurrence of causing irritation or any other negative skin reactions. They’re actually widely used in the medical field because of their inert, non-reactive properties.
We hope this post has helped clear up any questions you might have had around why we choose to use a handful of certain ingredients. If you have any questions about what we’ve written here – or if you’re wondering about other types of ingredients we use or the ingredients in sunscreen – then please leave them in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you.