Home Beauty An In-Depth Chat about Sunscreen with Dr. Liia Ramachandra

An In-Depth Chat about Sunscreen with Dr. Liia Ramachandra

by Wasifa Ahmad Hasan

Hello, my lovely reader! I am excited about today’s article because I interviewed Dr. Liia Ramachandra, Skincare Expert, and former Pharma Executive. We talked about the most crucial skincare product: SUNSCREEN! I know I learned many new things about sunscreen after talking to her, so if you are interested to learn more about sunscreen, keep on reading.  

Here’s what you should know about sunscreen:

SC: What should we look for while buying sunscreen?

Dr. Ramachandra: Always look at the ingredients first. Preferably buy ones with active mineral ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. If you want to buy something with a higher SPF (higher than 30%), you will find one or two chemical active ingredients in there. Please see below for possible toxicities.

I would always suggest sticking with the sunscreens with the mineral ingredients, even if it only gives you SPF 20, and reapply every few hours while outside. And always stick with the cream formulation and not the spray. Spray formulation uses nanoparticles, meaning that they may clog your pores and, more importantly, be absorbed into your body, causing all kinds of side effects. Even the spray formulation of zinc oxide and titanium oxide can be harmful due to the possible inhalation when using the spray. 

SC: What are the ingredients we should avoid?

Dr. Ramachandra: There are a few. Here is from worst to least worse.

  • Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone causes allergic skin reactions and behaves like an endocrine disruptor (such as can cause early puberty in teens; basically it is a hormone disruptor). Researchers found that adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone measurements had significantly lower total testosterone levels (Scinicariello 2016).
    Three other studies reported statistically significant associations between oxybenzone exposure during pregnancy and birth outcomes. Female exposures to oxybenzone and related chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of endometriosis (Kunisue 2012). 
  • Oxtinoxate: It is readily absorbed into the skin and continues to be absorbed after the sunscreen has been applied. It has been found in blood 16 times above the proposed FDA safety threshold (Matta 2019, 2020). Octinoxate can also cause allergic reactions after exposure to ultraviolet light (Rodriguez 2006), which usually happens when you go in the sun.
  • Homosalate: Homosalate has been found to penetrate the skin, disrupt hormones and produce toxic breakdown byproducts over time.
  • Octisalate: A case report showed that the chemical has been linked to allergic contact dermatitis (Singh 2007) (similar to eczema).
  • Octocrylene: Studies have found that octocrylene causes relatively high rates of skin allergies (Bryden 2006). It has been linked to aquatic toxicity, with the potential to harm coral health (Stein 2019), and it is often contaminated with the known carcinogen benzophenone.
  • Avobenzone: Because avobenzone is not stable, it must be paired with other ingredients that act as stabilizers to prevent it from breaking down in the sun. Breakdown products of avobenzone can cause allergic reactions (Nash 2014). Avobenzone can also disrupt the endocrine system and has been shown to block the effects of testosterone in cellular studies (Klopcic 2017). Plus, obviously, avoid the ones that are now recalled due to being contaminated with benzene.

SC: What are the safest types of sunscreen for kids?

Dr. Ramachandra: Again, I always stick to mineral sunscreens for my kids. I do not like the spray ones since they most likely contain nanoparticles that may clog your skin. This will be incredibly unpleasant when your face skin is clogged. Always stick to mineral sunscreens and reapply often. 

Suggested read: Skincare Ingredients: The Good and The Bad Ones

SC: What are some of your most favorite sunscreens?

Dr. Ramachandra: First of all, sun protection doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive — it needs to be consistent
Since I could not find any sunscreens on the market that I deemed safe enough for my family and me, we have created our own. I like Sheer, restoring Hydration Face, Neck, and Decollete Cream SPF 30 by EpiLynx (contains only mineral active ingredients).
If you prefer chemical sunscreens (containing Octinoxate), I would suggest the Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for the face.

Thank you Dr. Ramachandra for sharing your knowledge about sunscreen with us!

Editor’s Note:

I like to use only mineral sunscreen for my daughter. For myself, I switch between mineral and chemical sunscreen. My most used sunscreens are listed below! Happy shopping!!

About Dr. Liia Ramachandra:

Dr. Liia Ramachandra, Pharm.D., Ph.D., is a serial entrepreneur and healthcare executive. Dr. Liia is the Founder and CEO EpiLynx, Gluten-Free Skin Care and Cosmetics Brand. In addition, she has vast experience in Global Medical Affairs, Global Ethics and Compliance, Clinical Research, and Global Publications.
She has worked with multiple companies like Takeda Pharmaceuticals Inc, Pfizer, Astellas. Dr. Liia holds a Master’s degree in Pharmacy and Doctorate in Pharmacy from Groningen University, the Netherlands, and a Ph.D. from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands.

Liia Ramachandra fills many roles in her day-to-day life. From being a CEO and a mother to being a doctor and a patient. It was her role as a patient that instilled in her a desire to create Dr. Liia®. 


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