BurnOut sunscreens: updates

green eggs and ham

See this post from a few days ago for earlier news on The Great Reformulations (which started last year, actually), especially the changes in ingredient-lists. I had ordered the Eco-Sensitive and the Ocean Tested. They arrived. I have now tried them.

My predictions and expectations before testing: that the Eco-Sensitive would be perfectly fine and probably not that different from the previous version; and that the Ocean Tested would be nicer.

First (UPDATE 2014-03-17: and second) impressions after testing:

1. ECO-SENSITIVE (2014 reformulation)

  • A very different texture: thicker and pastier. As in, like a paste. Thicker than Vanicream SPF 50. You have to apply pressure to squeeze it out of the tube. More than with toothpaste. As compared to the last version (last purchased in January 2014). Which had in turn been thicker and pastier than its predecessor. The original version first used in 2010 was a lightweight liquidy milky lotion. It poured. The last version (January 2014) was closer in texture to the 2010-11 Ocean Tested.
    Basically, this sunscreen has become thicker, denser, and more solid with every change to it.
    It might be an idea to redesign the tube’s opening…
    → CON: If you are looking for a lovely elegant lightweight milk of a sunscreen: look elsewhere
  • It needs to be melted between finger-tips before application, then dotted onto skin, then moved around evenly from there. It is less easy to apply. It needs more rubbing in.
    → CON: This is EMPHATICALLY NOT a super good idea on the kinds of sensitive skin that are thin, fragile, and easily damaged. I am not content with it on the face and neck. Proper even application resulted in redness from physical rubbing to the skin. On my kind of skin, that is not only non-good but actively bad.
  • On the other hand: once it is on and has settled, I have the impression that there is a more even spread of the actual zinc oxide.
    → PRO
  • And it dries clear.
    → PRO
  • No immediate skin reactions
    → PRO
  • But some bumpiness and roughness to skin (though this may be as much in reaction to having to apply it more vigorously)
    → CON
  • Do check the ingredient-list for known triggers for your own skin sensitivities. My own skin is DRY and not prone to acne breakouts, though it is prone to clogging. It is irritable, and has a list of Known Irritants; none are in this particular sunscreen. But it does contain are a number of ingredients—especially the coconut- and/or palm-derivatives in the base (cetyl alcohol is the biggie)—that are known higher-probability cloggers for those with various sorts of acne, seborrheic dermatitis, and rosacea. All of these (and many others) are forms of “skin sensitivity.” If a product isn’t compatible with them, then it should not be called “sensitive.”
    → NEUTRAL / CON, depending on your skin
    → CON: if something is labelled as being suitable for “sensitive skin,” it bloody well ought to be what it says it is. Unfortunately, such terms are not legally (or otherwise—empirically, scientifically, factually) regulated. In this case, a more responsible manufacturer should either be a bit more specific about their use of the word “sensitive” (especially in the name of a product and on the front label of its packaging), or should omit it altogether.

CONCLUSION: I do not like this stuff, and disapprove of its reformulation. Thumbs down. I will not be repurchasing it unless it is reformulated again for the better.

→ NO.

UPDATE: “Opalescent” ran both Eco-Sensitive and Ocean Tested through CosDNA for a comedogenicity analysis. Here are the results for Eco-Sensitive:

While the 2010-2013 version had nothing over a 0 besides Vitamin E (2) and Zinc Oxide (1), the new formulation looks worse on paper (or screen rather):

Zinc Oxide (1), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Water (Aqua), Glycerin (0), Polysorbate 60, Stearic Acid (2), Cetyl Alcohol (5), Sorbitan Stearate (0), Cetearyl Glucoside, Stearyl Alcohol (2), Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-3 Ricinoleate, Isostearic Acid, Lecithin, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan (5), Helionori, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Ascorbyl Palmitate (2), Tocopherol (2), Ethylhexylglycerin

As we all know there are plenty of factors that go into whether something actually clogs you. But it’s interesting that in cosdna’s analysis the Ocean-Tested new formulation beats the Eco-Sensitive new formulation if not the Eco-Sensitive old formulation.

A note:

Not all ingredients are listed on CosDNA. The comedogenicity of tocopherols varies to some extent with source-material: wheat germ oil is higher-risk than sunflower- or safflower-seed oil. If comedones are a concern, look up each ingredient that has no number next to it for yourself, using as many sources as possible, to figure out its risk for you. Ex. coconut, palm, soy, and castor oil derivatives; xanthan gum, helionori, cap triglycerides.

A note on helionori:

Helionori is a patented ingredient made from a form of red macroalgae (porphyra umbilicalis); I know that red algae are a 5 on the comedogenic scale, but I don’t know how accurate and current the scale is. I.e. whether *all* red algae have been tested and rate a 5, or only *some* (or even just one, the dulse that’s more common in Europe and North America). Red algae are a big and varied family, and their derivatives vary enormously…

green eggs and ham


  • A different texture again: more liquid than the last version (from early 2013), and…
    … *DRUMROLL* …
    … more liquid not only than the new Eco-Sensitive, but than its predecessor! It’s still not a lovely light elegant milky thing, but the texture is a definite improvement. Might have something to do with water being ingredient no. 1 on the list, which is a major change compared to previous versions. On the other hand, that may have an impact on waterproof-ness. Not yet tested in actual water, such as the Great Pacific in my backyard.
  • Applied smoothly and evenly, with little physical rubbing needed at all. Melts into skin (though this takes time, at least 5 minutes) and dries clear. Again, as with the Eco-Sensitive, the formulation looks better for zinc oxide dispersal. I would suspect that’s where a lot of the recent company R&D may have been.
    → PRO
  • No irritation, no clogs, no nothing. (UPDATE: mostly. Some roughness around cheekbones and between eyebrows.) And skin feels nice and moist. (UPDATE: mostly; see previous comment.)
    → PRO
  • But, as said before: do check the ingredient-list for known triggers for your own skin sensitivities.
    → NEUTRAL / PRO / CON depending. Your Mileage May Vary.
  • And the label still sucks. It is minging and needs drastic aesthetic reformulation. But that’s pretty minor: main thing is the stuff inside the tube.

CONCLUSION: I like this stuff, and approve of its reformulation. Thumbs up. I would switch from Eco-Sensitive to this. It is usable (UPDATE: with caveats).

UPDATE: “Opalescent” ran both Eco-Sensitive and Ocean Tested through CosDNA for a comedogenicity analysis. Here are the results for Ocean Tested:

Actually only 5 of the ingredients are rated. The highest get a 2 (avocado oil and tocopherols).

I looked this up for myself but hope someone else finds it useful 🙂

Zinc Oxide (1), Purified Water, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (0), Capric/ Caprylic Triglycerides, Sorbitan Stearate (0), Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Cetyl Dimethicone, Magnesium Sulfate, Organic Avocado Oil (2), Virgin Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Cucumber Extract, Organic Green Tea Extract, Tocopherols (2), Organic Pomegranate Juice, Helionori, Hyaluronic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hydrogenated Methyl Abiate, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide

A note, as before:

Not all ingredients are listed on CosDNA. The comedogenicity of tocopherols varies to some extent with source-material: wheat germ oil is higher-risk than sunflower- or safflower-seed oil. If comedones are a concern, look up each ingredient that has no number next to it for yourself, using as many sources as possible, to figure out its risk for you. Ex. helionori (on which, see further up in the discussion of BurnOut Eco-Sensitive), cap triglycerides.

green eggs and ham

UPDATE 2: Tested side-by-side with Vanicream SPF 50. This is a very good, moisturising, sensitive-skin-friendly, comfortable sunscreen, that always works on my skin and that I keep around just in case. It is not a “green” sunscreen, but it is cruelty-free and properly formulated by a company who specialise in skincare for sensitive skins.

It has a reputation for being thick, sticky, and greasy; it is all these things, compared to very light sunscreen milk-veils (many of which are drying on my own skin). It may be thick, but it’s not Badger-like. On me, it’s spreadable, sinks in and dries down matte and clear, in a few minutes.

I had been thinking that the Eco-Sensitive was thicker than Vanicream 50 and less usable. I compared the two. E-S was indeed thicker, denser, less spreadable, and drier.

I had also observed that Ocean Tested was more fluid and lighter-feeling than Eco-Sensitive. I had then thought that OT was probably more fluid and usable than Vanicream 50. I compared the two. I was incorrect: Vanicream was lighter, more fluid, easier to apply, more smoothable, and sank in a lot faster. And the rough patches (between low-grade irritation and pre-eczema) are gone on the Vanicream side.

CONCLUSION: back to Vanicream SPF 50.

Next update: I shall add some photos, monitor developments over the crucial next 6 weeks, and email judgements above to the manufacturer.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Beware of rumour-mongering and online hypthesising, especially if it leads to mass judgements. There’s a fine line between that and idiocracy. Trust no-one, but read as much and as variously as you can so as to give some idea of realistic probabilities; that is, in relation to the reality of your own skin. Test things out for yourself and on yourself.

Don’t fall for this:

green eggs and ham

Or this:

green eggs and ham

Or, indeed, this:

green eggs and ham

But try to do this instead, because you never know, you might be lucky and it might all end happily for you:

green eggs and ham

green eggs and ham

green eggs and ham


    • gingerama

      Well, that is of course your right: your skin, your money.

      I don’t know if you know this, so in case you don’t (and for the information of other readers) it is not simply a question of the percentage of zinc oxide. It is not a simple truth that a high percentage of ZnO is better than a lower one; nor that one should simply look for the highest percentage of ZnO.

      Others factors, as discussed elsewhere on this blog:

      1. Particle size: smaller is better, as you want a bigger ratio of surface area to volume, so you can use fewer particles over a larger surface area, for the same end result in terms of protection. To obtain a test result of SPF 30, that could mean 40% of large ZnO in baby butt paste / diaper or nappy-rash cream; or 20% of standard micro ZnO; or 6-10% of smaller-sized microfine; or, say, under 5% of nano ZnO.

      2. Particle size combined with coating, especially of smaller size particles (down to much-feared but legal nano, and very small nano that is not legally approved…), again in the interests of efficiency: using less for more.

      This point is also where aesthetics come into the equation: for a sunscreen to be wearable. Already, for it to be usable is important: it has to be spreadable (viscous, liquid) so that it can be applied and spread to cover skin evenly, distributing the actives (so, the ZnO particles) evenly so that all skin is protected. This way it’s all covered and/or in range for ZnO particles bouncing off radiation (including bouncing it off neighbouring ZnO particles).

      3. Other ingredients may boost sun protection, such as certain antioxidants.

      What is used in Vanicream (and some others) is a different kind of coated very small zinc oxide with a smaller particle size and better, more even dispersal: therefore less is needed for the same protection.

      • gingerama

        I should add that my skin has never burned while using Vanicream SPF 50, including in the tropics in full summer, when other sunscreens failed and my skin started to burn.

        The same is true of Blue Lizard sensitive / baby SPF 30, which uses the same actives (z-cote and ti-silc).

        On the other hand, my skin has burned when I have used certain sunscreens with larger particle sizes and a poorer dispersal system: ex. Devita and Badger.

        And that has happened in less extreme conditions: here in Vancouver, in winter and spring.

        On yet another hand (or maybe we’re on to feet here): my skin has also been fine and unburied with some sunscreens with a high percentage of ZnO, usually the zinclear sort, such as Eco Logical, Loving Naturals, Elemental Herbs, Graham’s, older versions of BurnOut, and Babo Botanicals.


        1. The proof of the pudding is in the eating + one man’s meat is another man’s poison: test stuff out in practice on your own skin.

        2. YMMV

  1. Brianne

    Lol! I JUST placed an order for eco sensitive!!! Based on reviews for its PREVIOUS formula, now wish I’d have gotten the ocean kind…
    Alas, I’ve been using Cotz, it’s GOOD but… Thick. Exactly how you describe eco sensitive!
    Sooo, I’ll give these green eggs a chance, but at least I know what to exchange it for! thank you!!!!!

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