This sunscreen is drastically overpriced for what you get, and that makes it potentially dangerous. Before we explain why, what is truly sad is the fact that this is sold by a dermatologist (Dr. Audrey Kunin), which makes the farfetched claims for this product even more distressing.
Back to why the price makes it dangerous: We know that all sunscreens must be applied liberally to be effective. How liberal are you going to be with a sunscreen that costs $85 for 1 ounce? If you applied this as you should, you would use it up in about a month, which means the expense would add up to over $1,000 per year!
DermaDoctor (in an improbable leap of marketing nonsense) justifies their price by claiming that the formula uses “solar-powered technology” to change skin-damaging UV light into harmless red light. But, solar-powered technology has nothing to do with red light.
The company explains that their product works the way solar panels on a roof work to heat a home. There is nothing about this sunscreen that has anything to do with solar panels. Solar panels are made of semiconductors treated with silicone that form an electrical field. They also have electrical conductors. When light strikes a solar panel, some of it is absorbed by the semiconductor material and then transferred to the attached electrical conductor, which produces electricity. Of course, it’s more complicated than that, but you can see there is no way on earth that it has anything even remotely to do with skin care.
Back to the ridiculous red light claim for a moment. According to the company, the plant extract of Morinda citrifolia (commonly known as noni fruit) contains a component that is able to capture the sun’s rays and convert their energy into “a highly focused visible red wavelength of light” equivalent to that of an LED used in a doctor’s office. But in the real world, that isn’t possible.
UVA and UVB radiation are the sun’s rays that we cannot see, but that seriously damage our skin and eyes over time. UVA rays have a wavelength of 320 to 400 nanometers (nanometer is a unit of length we use to measure the wavelength of light), UVB rays about 290 to 320 nanometers. Red light, which is visible light, has a wavelength of around 600 nanometers. You can’t take the invisible rays of the sun and turn them into visible light—it is beyond the laws of physics.
Even if this David Copperfield hocus-pocus were possible, red light doesn’t do much for skin anyway. Red light is the same light emitted by the digital clock next to your bed, and that certainly isn’t making anyone younger. Even the in-office photodynamic therapy treatments that emit red light aren’t all that effective for making skin look younger.
What we know about Morinda citrifolia is that it can, like dozens and dozens of plant extracts, vitamins, and other forms of antioxidants, provide an extra measure of UV protection by virtue of their antioxidant components (Sources: Journal of Natural Medicine, July 2009, pages 351–354; Natural Products Research, November 2007, pages 1199–1204; and Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, June 2003, pages 2499–2502).
Of course, that isn’t the same as converting UV light into harmless energy that can somehow help your skin look younger, but if you’re going to charge this much money for a product you better have a good story.
Although this product includes avobenzone for reliable UVA protection and has a lightweight cream texture suitable for normal to dry skin, the formula contains a couple of problematic plant extracts that make it less desirable (assuming the price isn’t enough to dissuade you). Both arnica and pellitory are problems for all skin types. The latter can stimulate nerve endings in skin, leading to redness and irritation in the form of a hot, burning sensation. Pellitory also is a particularly bad plant extract for anyone with ragweed allergies (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com).
Ground-breaking, patent-pending solar powered technology in lotion form captures UV light transforming it into visible red light, a proven energy source for eliciting anti-aging effects on the skin. Just like solar panels on the roof capture the sun’s UV rays and convert them into energy to power a home, Photodynamic Therapy captures and refracts the sun’s UV rays, turning them into a powerful, device-free anti-aging machine.
Active: Avobenzone 3.0%, Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5.0%, Oxybenzone 6.0%, Other: Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Anacyclus Pyrethrum Root Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Aqua (Water), Benzylidene Dimethoxydimethylindanone, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Butylparaben, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Carbomer, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Diazolidinyl Urea, Disodium EDTA, Ethylparaben, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Lentinula Edodes (Shiitake Mushroom) Extract, Methyl Methacrylate/ Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Methylparaben, Morinda Citrifolia Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20, Propylparaben, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sorbitan Oleate, Stearic Acid, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Triethanolamine, Ubiquinone, Yeast Amino Acids
Strengths: Company provides complete product ingredient lists on its Web site; well formulated AHA products; sunscreens provide critical broad-spectrum protection, good oil-control product; a couple of great, though pricey, cleansers.
Weaknesses: Expensive; mostly poor anti-acne products; anti-wrinkle products making imossible claims; clinical studies alluded to are not made available to the public (which is odd, given that this is a brand fronted by a dermatologist); some product formulas suffer due to jar packaging.
The DERMAdoctor line is the brainchild of Kansas City-based dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin. Dr. Kunin's Web site retails not only the DERMAdoctor brand but several products from other brands, many of which have ties to specific dermatologic concerns (everything from athlete's foot to warts). Many of these specialty products are available from your local drugstore, but Kunin's site provides helpful, mostly reliable information concerning various skin-care concerns.
We wish her own products followed the strength of her advice, but alas, most do not. This is another dermatologist-developed line with plenty of products whose names and claims make you think they're a cosmetic corrective procedure in a bottle (or, in some cases, a jar, which is never a good packaging move). There are some products to pay attention to, though whether you want to strongly consider them or not comes down to how much you feel comfortable spending (DERMAdoctor products aren't cheap).
DERMAdoctor isn't exactly "your prescription for beautiful skin" but Dr. Kunin gets enough right that her line isn't one to gloss over, particularly if you're shopping for sunscreens, AHA products, and facial cleansers. Those with acne should look elsewhere, because DERMAdoctor's products don't have the solution, despite their cute product names.
For more information about DERMAdoctor, call (877) 337-6237 or visit www.dermadoctor.com.
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