New Showroom in Forlì

Did you go around to our new Showroom BeC Natura? We are in Forlì near to the company! It is our Academy where you will have the opportunity to attend our training courses and aesthetics methodologies. A meeting location among our clients, sellers and BeC consultants.

Come and find us in Forlì in Viale Roma, 274

Tel. +39 0543 – 473348

Have a look here on FB

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VALU-CERT prize at BeC for organic cosmetic line Terra Biocare

img_3075On occasion of IX PHARMEXPO – the exhibition for pharmaceutical and health care products –  at Mostra d’Oltremare (Naples) on November 2016, the distinguished companies for the best communication skills of their own brand have been awarded the FARMAFFARI and VALU-CERT prizes. The latter one, named “the value of certification” was addressed to cosmetic companies with the best disclosure on certification of their organic cosmetics. Since 2005, the marketing prize FARMAFFARI – powered by AEREC (European Academia for Economic and Cultural Relations), ASSOGENERICI, ENPAF, UNICOM, AIMF, ANCTF, FEDERLAZIO – awards the best advertising in health care. The congress was organized by Dr Mariano Marotta (director of Studio SviMM – Development and Marketing) and has shown the cosmetic companies’ trend in gaining certification to better testify commitment in environment issues and guarantee the best quality to the consumer.

As a company committed to organic cosmetics, BeC has been awarded the “VALU-CERT: the  value of certification” prize for having actively put effort in disclose the importance of EcoCert certification of  the organic cosmetic line “Terra Biocare”. Dr. Oriana Chinni, responsible of cosmetics R&D received the prize along with a lithography of Massimo Pennacchini and the book “Regulatory affairs expert”.

img_2382Organic mission of BeC continues with Terra Biocare:

At BeC we have chosen Ecocert Greenlife certification for our organic cosmetics entrusting this independent certification body Ecocert aiming to develop and support those agricultural techniques that have full commitment to respect and protection of the environment. The basic principles of Ecocert standards consider that the eco-friendly cosmetics should be made only of ingredients deriving from renewable sources and produced by procedures with a reduced impact on environment. Basic requirements to be met according Ecocert accreditation are the absence of GMO (genetically modified organisms), of synthetic preservatives, of synthetic parfums, of nanoparticles, of silicones, of PEG polymers and dyes, along with ingredients from animal origin. Moreover, packaging materials are required to be biodegradable and recyclable. The ORGANIC COSMETICS label validated by Ecocert on our cosmetic products Terra biocare certifies that they contain at least 95% of ingredients of natural origin, and at least 95% of vegetable ingredients (however not less than 10% of the whole amount) comes from organic farming. Terra biocare: top quality products made for an environmentally and socially responsible life-style, in the  fullest harmony between Man and Nature.

Ready for a good and conscious suntan? Let’s know better sunscreens…

solariA wonderful sunny day could really change our mood, it allows us to better face daily routine and enjoy the outdoor benefits. A sunny day brings us back to positive thinking, energy, beauty and health. However, we should not forget all the implications of sun-exposure, in order to benefit from sunlight avoiding the related risks, caused by solar over-exposure. Let’s better understand what sun exposure really implicates, knowing that uneven solar exposure can cause not only tiny sunburns, but also it could increase incidence of certain forms of skin cancer.

Sunlight is composed by different bands characterized by their wavelenght (λ) and energy: a portion of such radiation is represented by ultraviolet (UV) rays

  • UVC rays (λ = 40 ÷ 286 nm) are filtered off by atmosphere ozone and they don’t reach Earth surface in considerable amount.
  • UVB rays (λ = 286 ÷ 320 nm) stimulate melanin formation even though they penetrate only partially through skin, and are the main responsible for suntanning. They act superficially on epidermis and can damage skin cells, determining inflammation and sunburns, due to their high energy.
  • UVA rays (λ = 320 ÷ 400 nm) represent the majority of UV radiation,  they deeply penetrate through skin and cause damage to underlying tissues, they provoke skin ageing  and contribute to pathologic phenomena. They also give rapid suntan using the already-formed melanin.

Cosmetic sunscreens play a major role in skin safety, they represent a strong defence for our skin and contribute to effectively protect it from sunlight. Since September 2006 European Commission has set directives for a perfect solar protection formulation: it must screen efficaciously from both UVA and UVB rays. EU directives compel cosmetic manufactures to display clear labels in terms of efficacy and claims of sun-care products. BeC, as a cosmetic manufacturer, has been working seriously to assure the best performance of sun-care products, with the added value of the  essential oils, the emollient, soothing and antioxidant actives that play a key role for comprehensive sun protection. They sooth erythema, while blocking skin photo-aging, beside cutting off UV rays.

Let’s better know which sunscreen are allowed in EU in cosmetics, according the Regulation (EC)   No   1223/2009   of    the   European   Parliament and of the Council of Europe:

  1. para-aminobenzoic (PABA) acid derivatives screen UVB rays with absorbance maximum peaks between 285 and 310 nm.
  2. Cinnamates (e. ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) are able to protect from UVB rays behaving also as quencher of excited species produced by solar radiation. They absorb radiation at maximum wavelength around 310 nm.
  3. Benzylidencamphor derivatives screen UVB rays and are quencher as well.
  4. Dibenzoylmethane derivatives protect from UVA rays.
  5. Benzophenones absorb both UVA and UVB rays.
  6. Salicilates boast a moderate absorbing efficacy in UVB region, with absorbance maximum at around 305 nm.
  7. Triazines, i.e. Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, are excellent photo-stable sunscreen covering the wide range of UVA and UVB.
  8. Diphenylcyanoacrilates, i.e. Octocrylene represent a good wide range UVA-UVB sunscreen.
  9. Titanium bioxide and Zinc oxide represent physical sunscreen characterized by full UV-range coverage and reflecting action with sunlight scattering properties.

BeC sun-care products are based on a careful combination of the best photo-stable suncreens (physical and chemical) in order to assure complete coverage of the UV spectrum.

The special formulation and the efficacy testing on human volunteers assure a totally safe and perfect suntan. To this aim, the sunscreen of Creme solari (SPF 6, 15 , 30 e 50+) covers the full protection range so to perfectly match your specific photo-type. Special attention is devoted to deliver super-fine and even dispersion of the UV-filter in the formula, so to assure a uniform protection and suntan. Ingredients’ quality, mostly from natural origin (100% natural in case of SPF6) makes these products fully skin-compatible, suitable also for the most delicate skin-types.

As we anticipated, BeC sun care products are not only made of sunscreens! Along with natural components which stimulate melanogenesis (ATP, tyrosine and riboflavine – vit. B2), making suntan more rapid and intense, i.e. aiding skin self-protect, BeC sun care products are rich of hydrating and soothing actives, which nourish our skin and contribute to re-equilibrate physiologic skin moisture and elasticity. Daily use of BeC suncare products avoid damages caused by sun over-exposure but also effectively increase hydration and elasticity!
Natural Vitamin E contained in every BeC sun care product helps prevent wrinkle formation and premature skin ageing along with defending skin from the action of free radicals involved in radiation mediated inflammatory processes. BeC sun care line acts by preventing sun damages: this is especially the case for the oil Huile SolÈ® that is particularly rich in vitamin E. Efficacy tests have shown that daily use reduces already formed wrinkles by 12% in only one week of treatment! This is an outstanding result!!!

BeC sun care products are designed to let us enjoy full benefits from sunlight, while reducing risks and side effects such as allergies, photo-sensitization and skin ageing. In order to protect skin from harmful radiation, our careful sun care formulation stimulates natural skin defence and guarantees a perfect and uniform suntan leaving hydrated, elastic and silky skin. The soothing action on irritation and the prevention of risks associated to free radicals – that causes premature ageing – complete the special properties of our sun care line.

Let’s benefit from a good suntan without turning down an excellent solar protection!

Cellulite, how to treat it?

silueCellulite  (or edematous sclerotic – fibrous edematous paniculopathy) is an aesthetic condition characterized by alterations of the subcutaneous tissue, uneven fat distribution and tissue tone loss. Sex, ethnicity, genetic and hormonal disorders, skin thickness and distribution of body fat, along with a lack of fitness and a high-fat diet, are all factors that can influence the formation of cellulite.

A body affected by cellulite presents skin with “orange peel” or “mattress” texture. Several factors may contribute to the appearance of this condition. Fat cells or “adipocytes” tend to increase in volume with subsequent compression of the surrounding blood vessels. The slowing down of blood circulation determines an inflammatory state that limits the request of oxygen and nutritients from the surrounding tissues, thus preventing liquid drainage. The subsequent drop of local temperature contributes to the thickening of fat clusters and it is responsible for the orange peel appearance of the skin. State-of-the-art anti-cellulite cosmetics must contain ingredients that simultaneously counteract the various causes of cellulite’s insurgence, i.e. agents that facilitate water drainage and endow tissues with elasticizing, vasotonic and lipolytic properties.

The dedicated passion of BeC research laboratories for developing effective wellness products gave birth to SiluÈ: the new formulation against cellulite beauty problems. SiluÈ is a rich and fast-absorbing body cream based on all natural ingredients, with a very soft touch and silky texture obtained with no silicones. SiluÈ can used both at day-time and night-time and it gives skin brightness and deep hydration since the first applications, thanks to its unique combination of synergic active principles. SiluÈ activates lipolysis and local lipidic metabolism thanks to extract of Fucus vesiculosus alga [1], rich in iodine and to the extract of Pao Rosa, rich in pterocarpans. The methylxantines, such as theophylline and caffeine[2] contribute to the lipolytic effect in a synergic way, both by enhancing adipocytes’ metabolism and by stimulating fat stock mobilization.

Indeed the 100% natural extract of Pao Rosa from Madagascar (approved by organic certification bodies) boasts diverse beneficial properties: it limits the new formation of fat cells (adipogenesis), inhibits fat stocking into adipocytes (lipogenesis) and increases the lipolytic effect of caffeine. Such a complex and synergic mechanism produces good results in the early stages of cellulite development as well as in more advanced stages.

silue2Anti-oedema and draining actions are obtained by the presence of several essential oils such as Caraway, Juniper, Fennel, Lemon, Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary and Clove, endowed with anti-inflammatory properties, too. Such activities also promoted by Centella asiatica extract, rich of triterpenes, and by Fenugreek, rich of polyphenols, both endowed with draining and protective action of blood vessels. Aescin, a triterpenic saponin from Horse chestnut help protect vessels. The essential oils of Thyme, Mint and Rosemary assure homogeneity of blood perfusion and help toxins removal. Besides the lipolytic ingredients with draining and vasotonic activities, SiluÈ contains precious vegetal oils which help skin elasticity. Vitamin E, Sweet Almonds and Jojoba oils, along with Olive Unsaponifiable fraction contribute to increase skin hydration (+46% !)  after only one month of treatment. Moreover, hydrating agents such as Hyaluronate, Saccharide Isomerate and Propandiol contribute with deep moisturizing action.

The good diffusion properties of ingredients from the formulation through stratum corneum assures optimal overall action. Moreover, the exfoliation agents determine a faster cellular turn-over, working through indirect enzymatic mechanism with no irritation. The vegetal lipophylic esters from Willow and Cumin help give silkiness and smoothness to the skin.

Cellulite doesn’t appear in one day and it can’t be removed in two weeks! We do not offer miracles but verified results obtained in our R&D laboratories and confirmed by efficacy tests on human volunteers. Our common goal is to guarantee the real effect… and it works! Let’s take care of our skin’s wellness: this is the key to genuine beauty!

[1] Hexsel D, Orlandi C, Zechmeister do Prado D. Botanical extracts used in the treatment of cellulite. Dermatol Surg. 2005 Jul;31(7 Pt 2):866-72; discussion 872.
[2] Herman A, Herman AP. Caffeine’s mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013;26(1):8-14.

Springtime: let’s take care of our hands and feet!

PiediManiHave you ever thought about how hands are important in our life? Hands clearly substitute a missing word in a conversation,  give love with a caress, carry out our daily activities. Our hands powerfully communicate: they are our business card. They barely lie to us about age and they reveal evidently age’s signs, when detracted.

How many times our hands are subjected to continuous injuries? Let’s think about the simple gesture of washing hands with ice-cold water, changing suddenly from warm to frozen places during winter or using harsh detergents in home cleaning activities. After such a harsh treatment, our hand skin become certainly red and dry. Our skin – being the first defense barrier – is made of hydro-lipidic film, which naturally protects our hands from environmental changes but it has a limited resistance. Our hands are more fragile than other body areas due to the limited amount of sebaceous glands, that make them more subjected to dryness. Moreover, they are always exposed to sunlight, also during winter.

You should everyday protect hands from external injuries, re-equilibrating natural hydrolipidic protective film with the aid of a suitable nourishing and moisturizing cream.

The hand cream GlovÉ is a complete wellness treatment for hands with protective, moisturizing and elasticizing action. Precious elements, such as natural ceramides  and  vitamin E along with pure essential oils and  distilled water rich of oligoelements, give elasticity and hydration to the skin tackling redden skin and irritations. With a silky texture and  a gentle non-greasy touch, the hand cream represents an invisible glove that naturally protect hands from external injuries, such as cold, detergent and chemical compounds.

maniepiedi_aprileFeet deserve equally our attention especially during springtime when they usually are exhibited. Even if they are in the spotlights during summertime, they should not be detracted during the rest of the year. In foot reflexology, body shape is compared to a tree: roots correspond to feet, trunk is our spinal column whereas leaves are represented by face. According to this methodology feet maintain the microcosm of human being so that they should be kept stable and healthy. If they are neat and beautiful, they could be appealing, especially when uncovered.

In spite of not being so prominent, feet should paid a special attention too. C.R.P. foot cream is  specifically designed to give relief to tired feet and attenuate problems related to strong dryness, such as hard skin and calluses. Talc, with the absorbing action, reduces abundant sweat whereas Tea Tree oil and the antiseptic essential oils help in protecting feet from mycosis and from excessive bacterial proliferation caused by closes shoes.

Beauty wakes up during springtime! Let’s take time to regenerate and shine our hands and feet with dedicated specific treatments.

Ingredients’ purity: efficacy and safety

I have been frequently come across in cosmetic company websites which excessively boast the importance of purity of vegetal extracts for the efficacy of cosmetic products. I end up with catchy phrases such as “…our cream is the most effective product on the market, because our Ginseng dry extract e is assayed 10% in  ginsenosides differently to the majority of competitors who use 3% assayed Ginseng…”

glass-containers-1205652_1920Well, let’s clarify the topic in two points:

  1. Efficacy is associated both to the extract purity and to the used amount in formulation
  2. If certain extract is assayed in 60% of something, what is the remaining 40%?

The first point is related to the fact that an extract 100% pure could be ideally used. For instance,  using one tenth of a certain ingredient in the formulation means that a less effective product (or with lesser amount of ingredient) it will obtained in comparison to the use of the same amount of the less pure extract. The real amount of the active extract in the final formulation relies on the efficacy of the product.

The second most important point is linked to safety of the cosmetic product: a botanical low-percentage pure extract will contain higher amount of impurities (extraction solvents / not declared components) in comparison to purer extract.

Modern cosmetic science crosses over pharmaceutical field so that we usually talk about cosmeceutics that support the topic that the functional and technical ingredients (commonly known as excipients) play a major role in activity along with the proper active ingredient. For instance, we demonstrated the ability of certain essential oils or fatty acids (from vegetable origin) to behave as enhancers for cutaneous absorption for some hydro- or liposoluble vitamins. The results were published in some relevant scientific journals.[1-4]

Definitely, ingredients’ purity relies on high percentage of the active ingredient: the purer is the extract, the lesser is the room for unknown ingredient and dangerous components (additives, plasticiser, solvents, dyes, etc.) in the formula.

I’d like to highlight the importance of quality and purity of the extracts and active ingredients to be used in cosmetic formulation in order to assure efficacy and safety. At last, don’t be fooled by advertising slogan which reveal meaningless at the end.

[1] S. Gabbanini, E. Lucchi, M. Carli, E. Berlini, A. Minghetti, L. Valgimigli, In vitro evaluation of the permeation through reconstructed human epidermis of essentials oils from cosmetic formulations, J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal. 50 (2009) 370–376.
[2] S. Gabbanini, R. Matera,  C. Beltramini, A. Minghetti, L. Valgimigli. Analysis of in vitro release through reconstructed human epidermis and synthetic membranes of multi-vitamins from cosmetic formulations J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal. 52 (2010) 461– 467.
[3] L. Valgimigli, S. Gabbanini, G. Arniani, E. Lucchi. Influence of the lipid-phase composition on the trans-epidermal transfer of vitamin B6 from O/W emulsions. HPC Today, 2013, 8, 24-27.
[4] L. Valgimigli, S. Gabbanini, E. Berlini, E. Lucchi, C. Beltramini and Y.L. Bertarelli. Lemon (Citrus limon, Burm.f.) essential oil enhances the trans-epidermal release of lipid- (A, E) and water- (B6, C) soluble vitamins from topical emulsions in reconstructed human epidermis, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 34 (2012) 347–356.

Parfum analysis at BeC: not only essential oils

Flavors, essential oils and perfumes play a key role in appealing cosmetic consumers as commonly known by marketing experts.  “Olfactory memory” is an unconscious mechanism that influences learning process and is able to stimulate other senses. Until Second Industrial Revolution (1870) perfumes were only obtained from essential oils or natural extracts (from animal or vegetal origin), but the organic chemistry opened the way to new cheaper and more accessible synthetic molecules rather than natural perfumes. Nowadays, perfume companies utilize synthetic molecules and nature‑identical fragrances (endowed with a defined flavor) that make them easy to blend with essential oils to design more sophisticated fragrances.

oli_essenzialiPerfume factories usually holds expensive patents for their own blends so that they are allowed to indicate them in the list of ingredient (INCI) with the term “Fragrance / Parfum” without any legal obligation to specify chemical composition. While this position protects intellectual properties of perfume factories, it definitely allows to omit in ingredients list some regulated or banned substances (i.e. some preservatives, dyes and sunscreens) in spite of consumer safety. In order to primarily protect consumers, the European Parliament Directive 2003/15/CE identifies 26 fragrance allergens (found  mainly in perfumes)  that have to be indicated in mandatory way on label when they are beyond of a certain concentration. Moreover, the adoption of the European Regulation  (CE) n.1223/2009  implicate – for cosmetic products  and perfumes – the mandatory drafting of the Product Information File (PIF) with punctual information on toxicological data of each ingredient, substituting the outdated technical dossier.

The importance to operate serious qualitative control on fragrances stimulated many fragrance producers to test their products – for quality assurance and certification – in order to get all information for PIF drafting. Our analysts in BeC laboratories can perform a variety of tests to fulfill technical data:

  • Qualitative and quantitative analyses of essential oils and other volatile mixtures by gaschromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Qualitative and quantitative GC-MS analyses of allergens (Directive 2003/15/CE)
  • UV-VIS spectrophotometric analysis of color
  • Refractive index determination
  • Stability study to PAO (period after opening) evaluation
  • Accelerated aging with GC-MS qualitative and quantitative analysis

With this service, BeC makes available a more than thirty-year expertise in essential oil with the final aim to guarantee consumer safety and contribute to protect global health.

Skin damage caused by “wrong” sunscreens: the photosensitization phenomenon

 creme solari becAs we have seen in the previous post, many sunscreens get damaged by sun radiation as they absorb it. The modest photo-stability of such sunscreens has important consequences on the safety and efficacy of sun-care products based on them. In the previous discussion we have seen that photo-instability of sunscreens causes a reduction of sun protection factor (SPF) with time. There are, however, additional interactions of sunscreens with sunlight that have even worse consequences on their safety. We will discuss them in this article.
Solar radiation contains sufficient energy to damage some molecules (M), including some molecules found in our skin, as exemplified in the equation:

M + light→ fragment-A + fragment-B

Fragments indicated as A and B, in the example above, are often free radicals that can attack other molecules, damaging or modifying them. For instance, if such a reaction occurred in our skin, damage could occur to structural proteins like collagen and elastin, contributing to the formation of wrinkles and the onsetting of photo-aging. Furthermore, it could start chain-reactions leading to erythema, other inflammatory states and even genetic mutations (skin cancer). Products containing sunscreens are meant to protect skin from all such damages, and normally they do, by decreasing the amount of UV radiation that hits our skin, i.e. acting as “filters”. But CAUTION !!! Not all the sunscreens are friends of our skin, and actually some might cause bigger damage than that they are expected to prevent. How?
Let’s go back to our previous example. In order for M to react with light, it is necessary that molecule M is at least able to absorb the light at quantum level, i.e. it is necessary the energy carried by light photons hitting M corresponds exactly to the energy gap between quantum levels in the molecule. Often this is not the case and molecule M would be perfectly “safe” if it was not for the presence of other molecules called photosensitizers.

benzofenone

Benzophenone and main benzophenone derivatives used as sunscreen in sun-care cosmetic products as well as in the protection of manufacts. The common base structure is drawn in blue

F + light F*  

then…

F* + M F + fragment-A + fragment-B

This process is well known in photochemistry and benzophenone is among the photosensitizers of broader use in industrial processes to induce photochemical reactions. Benzophenone is also the lead structure for many and, unfortunately, very popular sunscreens, widely used in sun-care cosmetics to give sun protection factor. Most common examples are depicted in the figure above. Sunscreens like benzophenone-3 and benzophenone-4 are structurally related to benzophenone and are potent photosensitizers. In case M is a biomolecule in our skin, such as collagen, elastin, an enzyme or DNA, this can be damages by exposure to sunlight in the presence of photosensitizers (like benzophenone derivatives) much more it would happen in their absence. In other words, certain sunscreens can amplify the damage to our skin caused by sunlight.

Many benzophenone derivatives are available today and 12 of them are of common use.  Those more commonly used in the manufacture of sun-care cosmetics and other goods, are listed in the following:

Benzophenone-1: 2,4-Dihydroxybenzophenone
Benzoophenone-2: 2,2′,4,4′-Tetrahydroxybenzophenone
Benzophenone-3 (or oxybenzone): 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone
Benzophenone-4 (or sulisbenzone): 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxy-benzophenone-5-sulphonic acid
Benzophenone-5 (the sodium salt of sulisbenzone): Benzenesulfonic acid, 5-benzoyl-4-hydroxy-2-methoxy-, monosodium salt
Benzophenone-8 (or dioxybenzone): 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)-(2-hydroxyphenyl)methanone
Benzophenone-10 (or mexenone): 2-hydroxy-4-methoxy-4′-methyl-benzophenone
Benzophenone-11: it is a mixture of benzophenone 2 e 6.

For these reasons BeC does not use benzophenone derivatives in sun-care products !!! BeC uses only physical filters in low protection products and, in high protection products, we use a combination of physical filters and new generation chemical filters, which are highly photostable. Here you can find more info on BeC sun-care products.

Therefore, when we chose a sun-care product, it is very important we pay attention to the label and read the composition: don’t look at the SPF value only!

We often hear that we should not expose to sunlight after having used perfumes or other products, as they can give photosensitization problems. The typical recommendation is to use only sunscreen products, but caution should be paid when we choose the sunscreen product, as even sunscreens can cause the same problems. Therefore, even if you have no particular problem of sensitivity to sunlight and think that any product will do the job, think again and don’t overlook the importance of choosing high quality sunscreens, so to make sure that the problems you don’t have will not be caused by the wrong product.

Photo-degradation of sunscreens and skin damaging

soleWe have previously discussed the mechanism of action of sunscreens, underlining that chemical sunscreens absorb the energy of sunlight and subsequently re-emit it in the form of heat, possibly without any alteration in the structure of the sunscreen itself. Possibly… does it always go this way? Unfortunately it doesn’t. For this reason we wish to discuss here a bit more on the photostability of sunscreens. Although this aspect is often overlooked (guess why?), it has major consequences on our health.
After having absorbed sunlight energy, chemical sunscreens are in a higher quantum energy state, from which they can undergo one of three processes:

  1.    they can go back to the lower energy state by loosing energy in the form of heat (which is often not perceived by our senses), thereby making ready to start over again and absorb more solar energy;
  2.     they can release the excess energy by breaking their structure into fragments, i.e. they degrade and form free radicals or use the energy to react with other molecules (photochemical reactions);
  3.     they can transfer the excess energy to another molecule by “hitting it”, i.e. they behave as photo-sensitizers.

Ideally, sunscreens should use only the first route; however, not all the sunscreens are identical and some of them, which are less stable than others, after several absorption-emission cycles, may take the second route (we will discuss in a following post of those sunscreens that take the third route and act as photosensitizers).
If the sunscreen degrades, it most commonly produces free radicals and other dangerous species. If the sunscreen has been absorbed deeply into our skin, those free radicals can attack and damage proteins and DNA, accelerating the photo-aging processes of the skin. In high quality formulations such damages can be prevented by the abundant presence of antioxidants (e.g. vitamin E) in the formula, so to block free radicals before they can cause any damage. Therefore, it is very important to always choose high quality products after careful reading of their label.
There is, however, another point to take into account: as the sunscreen degrades the solar protection factor (SPF) of the product progressively decreases. And antioxidants cannot help in this reguard.

photo-degradation_EN

Variation of the UV-Vis absorption spectra of two examples of sunscreen formulation, after exposure of the formulation to the same “dose” of sunlight (UV irradiation). The upper graph refers to a formulation with NON photostable sunscreens, which evidently shows a reduction of the spectrum after UV exposure, meaning a marked decrease in the SPF. The lower graph, instead, shows the behavior of a (BeC) formulation with photostable sunscreens: only negligible variation of the spectrum is displayed after irradiation implying no loss of SPF and more durable performance.

The fact that a sunscreen formula looses its SPF on exposing to sunlight depends on the phostability of the sunscreens: with highly photostable sunscreens the phenomenon has negligible relevance; however, with little photostable sunscreen molecules, which are unfortunately the most common in commercial formulas, the phenomenon is very relevant, as illustrated in the graphs on the left, displaying the comparison between two real formulations: a famous commercial products (don’t ask which one) and BeC sunscreen SPF15 cream.
Many of us think that “waterproof” sunscreen formulas – which can resist for several minutes of swimming in seawater – would provide a safer protection for the entire day, since the product would not be washed away. A look at the graphs clearly tells that this is not the case: a waterproof sunscreen formula does not guarantee safer daylong protection. First of all, we should consider whether the sunscreen contained in the formula is photostable!!! Secondly, we should consider that, even if the sunscreen is photostable, during a typical day at the seaside, we dry ourselves with a towel; we roll up in the sand, which we clean up by rubbing or washing our skin; we sweat in the heat or during physical activity (e.g. beach sports). All such actions end up removing the sunscreen form our skin anyway. Therefore, a high quality sunscreen formula, based on photostable components, is the ideal choice for a safer protection, but we should not forget that it is wise to re-apply the product several times during the day, particularly in the case of children.

UV filters in sunscreens: things we should know on their nature and functioning

Sunscreens or UV filters are natural or synthetic compounds that are included in cosmetic formulations to protect the skin from damages caused by solar exposure. In the case of specific sunscreen formulas (to be used for sunbathing), they are responsible for the Solar Protection Factor, SPF, whose value indicates the degree of protection the formula will guarantee to our skin, thereby avoiding erythema and other damages like photo-aging. What do UV filters exactly do and how do they act? The principle is very simple: UV filters reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface on which they are applied, for instance skin surface. The difference among the many UV filters lies in the mechanism by which they achieve this goal and they can be grouped in two categories.

Physical and chemical filter - effecto on skin

Mechanism of action of physical and chemical filters on the skin

Physical filters reflect (back) a portion of solar radiation, letting only a limited fraction of light cross them and reach the skin. Therefore, they do not interact with solar radiation and they are not altered by it at all. Chemical filters, instead, absorb a portion of solar radiation, and use it to achieve a higher quantum energy state. Immediately after, such excess energy is released to the environment in the form of heat, thereby making the filter ready to absorb solar energy again. The different mechanisms of action are summarized in the picture on the left. In both cases, the amount of solar energy allowed to pass – which is not reflected nor absorbed – depends on the amount of filters applied on the skin, which determines the solar protection factor.
Both types of filters offer advantages and disadvantages: physical filters have the advantage of being completely stable and not being damaged by solar radiation. Furthermore, compounds like Zinc oxide are totally inert and are very safe for skin. Their disadvantage lies in the difficulty to reach high SPF values without causing the so-called “white effect”. In order to reduce this effect, it is possible to use them in micronized form, which is much more precious (BeC uses this form in all sunscreen formulas). However, even micronized forms do not allow reaching high protection without becoming “visible” on the skin. Therefore, in high protection formulas they are usually combined with chemical filters. Chemicals filters, infact, have the advantage of being very effective and of offering excellent performance while being completely invisible. They disperse very well in the formulation affording a more homogenous protection (corresponding to a more even tan!); however, since they absorb the solar energy, they are subjected to the risk of photo-degradation, or they could undergo photochemical reactions.
At this point, let’s better clarify a very important aspect. Often, the expression “chemical filter” is confused with “synthetic filter”, i.e. artificial, while it is generally believed that physical filters are natural. This is not necessarily true! Physical filters are normally inorganic, i.e. minerals, and normally they are natural, but they can as well be synthetic, i.e. artificially produced.

Oryzanol

gamma-oryzanol: a natural “chemical” filter extracted from rice

On the other hand, the most common chemical filters are often synthetic, i.e. man made; however, there exist also examples of natural chemical filters. Among the most impportant ones, there is certainly gamma-oryzanol, which is extracted from rice bran (see picture on the left), and other examples are cinnamic acid, typical of cinnamon but found also in Brassica vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, etc) and in shea butter, carotenoids(e.g. from carrots, tomatoes and several red-orange fruits), Vitamin E and many more. These compounds have also the advantage of possessing additional properties (e.g. antioxidant, soothing, calming, anti-age); unfortunately, however, they are nor as effective as synthetic chemical filters. BeC uses natural chemical filters when high SPF values are not requested (e.g. in Huile SolE’), and combines natural and synthetic chemical filters when high protection is aimed at.

The take home message is: don’t be fooled by the words! The adjectives Chemical or Physical, for filters, indicate their mechanism of action not their origin. The origin can either be natural or synthetic, but the most important aspect is their stability toward solar radiation, which is fundamental for our safety under sunlight.