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Understanding Sunscreens

By: Rebecca James Gadberry
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the June 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 5 of 7

Q. Is it OK to add a sunscreen ingredient or a blend of ingredients to a moisturizer or foundation before selling it to my clients?

A .No, it isn’t OK. Adding sunscreen ingredients to another product makes you the product’s manufacturer in the eyes of the FDA. Sunscreens are over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that are regulated by the FDA. They must be produced, labeled and filled by an OTC manufacturing facility registered with and inspected by the FDA. Although it is highly unlikely that the FDA ever would become aware that you are adding sunscreen ingredients to your products before selling them to clients, if a client should ever make a claim against your liability insurance, the insurance company would not back such a practice.

Q. How much sunscreen should I tell my clients to apply if they’re just wearing it on their face every day?

A .Follow the two-finger rule: Instruct your clients to put a line of sunscreen 1/8 inch wide down the lengths of their index and middle fingers. Unlike recommending a standard measure, such as a teaspoon, for each client, using a person’s own fingers to measure will deliver the right amount of sunscreen for their size. This amount is enough to cover the entire face, ears, neck, throat and upper chest.

The two-finger rule applies regardless of whether the sunscreen is in the form of a moisturizer, foundation, blush or dedicated sunscreen product. Because most clients won’t want to put this much foundation or moisturizer on their skin, and probably won’t apply foundation to regions such as the backs of their neck or ears, recommending a sunscreen that’s separate from other products may be preferable if reliable, consistent protection is desired.