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What do you know about Iron Oxides and Sunscreen SPF?

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Recently Dr. Barankin asked me a question regarding iron oxides in sunscreens. I have to admit I had never really thought about that particular ingredient. This week, while being my usual skin geeky self, I came across a recent study about iron oxides. So, of course my curiosity got the best of me and I have to say I was surprised and impressed by what I learned.

In the Journal Of Cosmetic Dermatology November 18, 2020,  the results of an in-vitro study showed that sun protection products containing iron oxides provide extra protection against high energy visible light (HEV). Consumer electronics such as your Smartphone or computer emit HEV. Many studies have now proven that HEV contributes to aging skin in multiple forms such as increased wrinkles, skin laxity and pigmentary damage.

The study shows that iron oxides can protect against the HEV light whereas titanium dioxide and zinc oxide give us UVA and UVB protection, but provide a limited protection when it comes to HEV. Even antioxidants that provide protection from free radicals can’t prevent blue light melanogenesis. Therefore, the addition of iron oxides may protect patients who struggle with melasma or are more prone to hyperpigmentation (especially those with darker skin).

Dr. Eric F. Bernstein, M.D. one of the researchers for this study and a highly respected cosmetic dermatologist had this to say: “My entire career has been laser-focused on the use of lasers in medicine and the study of sunlight. One thing I’ve learned all too well is that sunlight causes a range of problems for our skin including fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, redness, pigmentation, skin sagging and skin cancer. Visible blue light is the most energetic, and therefore the most damaging light, to reach our skin and penetrates more deeply than ultraviolet rays. I have been interested, for many years, in ways to protect skin against all wavelengths of light. This research is important because it shows that skin care products formulated with iron oxides, combined with mineral sunscreen actives and other ingredients, effectively shield skin against harmful, high-energy, visible wavelengths.”

You can read the full study here

As we continue to find better products to amplify the health of the skin and to protect it against the signs of aging, cancer and pigmentation, and with continued studies being conducted providing concrete results, it is possible to slow down deterioration of the skin and to be able to age gracefully. Ask us about which sunscreen products have iron oxides (unfortunately not many!); we’ve made it a point to carry sunscreens with this important ingredient.

~ Sheri Roselle, Medical Esthetician at Toronto Dermatology Centre

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