The first themes addressed at the workshop led by Anne Dux, Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, concerned issues related to sunscreens and deodorants.
An unfiltered approach to sunscreens
First finding: only one French out of four bought suncare products in 2016, (26.5% exactly), for an average of 1.6 product per year. It is not much, especially considering that skin cancer is making progress and is one of the top three cancers in the world . The often high price of suncare products, could explain the lack of interest of French people for sunscreens, a public health issue.
“Products are expensive because filters are expensive,” explained Anne Dux. Filters, – key components of the product –, their quality, performance, relevance and environmental impact are at the heart of issues. To be efficient a suncare product generally uses two types of filters to protect the skin against UVAs and UVBs: mineral filters, playing the role of sunray reflectors like a mirror, and organic filters that absorb UVs. Some manufacturers are questioning the need of adding IR filters (against infrareds) in sunscreen formulas. “We do not recommend their use, because these rays impart a sensation of heat on the skin, protecting himself from IRs will encourage the user to stay longer in the sun or to expose himself during the hottest hours of the day,” emphasised Anne Dux.
There is currently a debate going on about the evaluation of the protective effect of sunscreens. According to the FEBEA, concerning SPFs (sun protection factor), which measures the protection against UVBs, only in vivo measurements, i.e., on human volunteers, are reliable. However, this poses an ethical problem, while in vitro results are more uncertain.
“In terms of innovation, improvements both in efficiency measurements and in the development of more eco-friendly filters are expected. Maybe with the introduction of natural filters, which so far, lack efficiency, or with formulas minimizing the presence of filters,” assured Anne Dux.
Because the other much debated issue on sunscreens is their environmental impact on wildlife and marine life. “Yet, there is no scientific evidence of this impact”, according to the specialist. Mineral filters are deposited on the ocean floor and do not degrade. But as far as pollution is concerned, sunscreens are not the biggest polluters in the field, way behind industrial paints.
Finally Anne Dux recalled that at present, the EU regulation was one of the safest in the world concerning suncare products. There is currently In Europe a list of 25 modern filters authorized, while in the United States this list, regulated by the FDA has not been updated since 1974. It only has 9 authorized filters, hence old generation filters. “This creates a real burden for U.S. and international companies, and a lack of safety for consumers,” she concluded.
An update on deodorants and antiperspirants
The speaker focused on recalling the differences in their mechanism of action and therefore their composition. Deodorants fight against perspiration odours by using agents and perfumes that limit bacterial growth. Aluminium salts, which have been in the hot seat for many years due to a possible link with breast cancer, are present in antiperspirant products to block sweat excretion from sweat glands.
Anne Dux looked back on the issue concerning these aluminium salts recalling that aluminium was present everywhere in our environment without impacting the organism because it did not cross the skin or digestive barrier. Adding that, no reliable study proved so far that these aluminium salts could cross the skin barrier and justify the presence of the substance in the ganglia of women with the disease. “In all logic, if the link between deodorants and breast cancer was established, it would then cause bilateral cancers and also affect men. There is no conclusive study on the crossing of the skin barrier. The recommendations of the AFSSAPS (French Agency for the Safety of Health Products) are based on invalid tests because they were performed in an environment charged with aluminium,” commented Anne Dux. A new in vivo study is underway on which the SCCS (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety) will soon take position.