A current discussion of sunscreen frequently asked questions and answers.

(Please Contact Us for questions or concerns not addressed below. For shopping cart questions: Checkout Help)

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Questions: Ordering/Website Questions: Regulation and Ingredient Questions: General Sunscreen Questions: Application Questions: Skin Care Questions:

RMS Specific Questions:

Question: What's the difference between Regular and Kids sunscreen?

Answer: All of our sunscreen formulas are kid friendly: hypoallergenic, fragrance free, gluten free, nut-oil free, and formulated for sensitive skin. As the leader in sun safety for the child care industry, providing quarts and gallons in a Kids package enhances our marketing program.

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Question: How does a Bonding Base formula prevent the buildup of undesirable body heat?

Answer: Bonding Base sets into the top layers of the skin (stratum corneum) where it prevents build up of undesirable body heat, better allows for natural perspiration, and does not tend to rub off onto towels or critical equipment. This "Bonding Base" feature maintains the sunscreen on the skin longer and more comfortably than other formulations.

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Question: What is the shelf life or expiration of RMS? Is it safe to use after it has expired?

Answer: A common misconception is that sunscreen expires after one year. A sunscreen's shelf life depends on its formula stability. Rocky Mountain Sunscreen's stability testing gives our formulas (SPF 30, 50, & 70) a three year shelf life. Our new Broad Spectrum formulas for 2012 are expected to achieve similar stability testing. Our sunscreens are safe to use after the suggested shelf life, however, the active ingredients will become less effective.

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Question: Is Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Gluten Free?

Answer: All of Rocky Mountain Sunscreen's formulas are 100% Gluten Free. In addition, our lip balm is also gluten free. Please see our Product Specifications page for more information.

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Question: Is Rocky Mountain Sunscreen tested on animals?

Answer: No. Rocky Mountain Sunscreen is NOT tested on animals. Our sunscreens are tested on people to measure their efficacy.

Some of the active and inactive ingredients may have undergone prior scientific assessments by organizations unrelated to RMS. For example, the New Jersey Medical School performed skin testing on rats in 1995 and determined that Oxybenzone, an active sunscreen ingredient, was safe and non-toxic when applied to the epidermal.

Okereke CS, Barat SA, Abdel-Rahman MS. (1995). Safety evaluation of benzophenone-3 after dermal administration in rats. Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark 07103-2714, USA. Toxicol Lett.1995 Oct;80(1-3):61-7. PMID: 7482593 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7482593).

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Question: What happened to the SPF 50 Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) formula?

Answer: Titanium Dioxide alone does not meet the new 2012 FDA testing standards for Broad Spectrum UVA protection. We have replaced Titanium Dioxide in our SPF 50 formula with stabilized Avobenzone (Avoguard™) to bring you the best SPF 50 sunscreen on the market. Please review the Sunscreen Active Ingredients Chart.

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Ordering/Website Questions:

Question: What do I do if my package or product is damaged during shipment?

Answer: Please contact us immediately so we can begin working on a solution.

Please keep the damaged item in its original packaging. The typical process for damages is as follows: 1. we ship a replacement item 2. we submit a damage claim with shipping carrier 3. shipping carrier will arrange a time to pick up the damaged package.

Problem with your order? Call 1-888-356-8899 or email info@rmsunscreen.com

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Question: What is the policy for returns or exchanges?

Answer: We have an easy-to-understand returns process via Our Guarantee: If after you have purchased our product—at anytime within 6 months—you feel for any reason it fails to live up to our promises, or even if it does and you just change your mind, simply return it to us and we will immediately and cheerfully give you a refund, credit, or exchange.

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Question: My company is tax exempt, how do I remove Colorado sales tax from my order?

Answer: Sales tax is applicable to Colorado only, if you are out of state we do not need your sales tax ID and no tax will be charged.

  1. Create a new account, or login and add your Tax ID Number in the designated field.
  2. Send us your Colorado State Tax Exempt Certificate via fax 303-940-9809 or orders@rmsunscreen.com
  3. Call 1-888-356-8899 when steps 1 & 2 are complete so we can modify your account settings to Tax Exempt.
  4. Place your order (this and all future orders will be tax exempt).
  Alternatively: place your order now and we can credit your card for the tax charged after receiving your Colorado State Tax Exempt Certificate.

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Regulation and Ingredient Questions:

Question: What do the new 2012 FDA sunscreen regulations mean to me?

Answer: The FDA's 2012 Final Rule specifies new sunscreen labeling requirements along with new UVA testing criteria. These changes will boost consumer's confidence in choosing a Broad Spectrum sunscreen and reduce confusion regarding UVA and UVB protection. Please read our 2012 FDA Webpage for an overview. Detailed information also available at FDA.gov or call us at 1-888-356-8899.

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Question: What's the full story behind sensationalized reports regarding Oxybenzone, Vitamin A, and other ingredients?

Answer: Rocky Mountain Sunscreen's ingredients are FDA approved and have been tested thoroughly for safety by several independent entities. For a detailed explanation on some specific sunscreen controversies, please read our Sunscreen Safety Concerns page. We understand your concerns and ask that you please consider what many experts and respected organizations have to say regarding these common sunscreen ingredients.

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Question: Does sunscreen damage coral reefs?

Answer: There are several differing opinions. One initial study on this subject was done by Dr. Roberto Danovaro et al. of the Polytechnic University of the Marche in Ancona, Italy (R. Danovaro, et al., Environmental Health Perspective, Vol. 116, April 2008). This study looked at some of the most common sunscreen ingredients used today. It is a fact that over the past 25 years damage to coral reefs has increased significantly. What is not taken into consideration within this study are other possible causes for this deterioration ranging from global warming, pollution, hydrocarbons, or other contaminants. Additionally, the ingredients studied are used widely in other daily cosmetic products in far greater proportions than sunscreens.

Some companies state that “all natural” sunscreens are biodegradable. There is no FDA definition and/or testing criteria for the term “Biodegradable”. In conclusion, we would like to see more studies on this subject before making any final determinations on the specific question of sunscreen damaging coral reefs.

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Question: What are nanoparticles and are they used in Rocky Mountain Sunscreen?

Answer: Nanoparticles are nano-sized particles that are specifically designed to penetrate deep into the skin. As sun damage is done closer to the surface of the skin, the particles used in sunscreens (Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide) are specifically sized so that they DO NOT penetrate the skin. Instead, they remain on top of the skin’s surface where they reflect and scatter the UV radiation. Rocky Mountain Sunscreen does not use nanoparticles in any of our formulas.

Furthermore, the EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment recently determined that nanoscale Titanium Dioxide (RMS particles are larger than Nano) does not penetrate beyond the stratum corneum or hair follicles into living cells of healthy skin (Table 4-4 page 72).Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide in Water Treatment and in Topical Sunscreen

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Question: Where can I obtain an MSDS sheet for an RMS Formula?

Answer: Material Safety Data Sheets can be obtained by calling 1-888-356-8899 or emailing info(at)rmsunscreen(dot)com with your request.

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Question: What are the child care regulations concerning sunscreen in my state?

Answer: Visit our Child Care Resources page to verify state sunscreen regulations for your school, camp, or child care center.

Generally, over-the-counter ointments and creams do not require a written authorization from a primary care provider with prescriptive authority. Parent/guardian written permission is required and all label instructions must be followed.
American Academy Of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, and National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education.

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General Sunscreen Questions:

Question: How does sunscreen work?

Answer: Sunscreen lotions work by absorbing, reflecting or scattering UV light. Sunscreen ingredients are either physical (reflecting) or chemical (absorbing, scattering) in nature. Many products contain a combination of ingredients. Regardless of the combination of ingredients, it is important to select a product that is labeled “Broad Spectrum UVA UVB.”

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Question: What does SPF stand for?

Answer: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is the measure of UVB protection offered by a product and can range anywhere from 2 to 80. The number indicates how much longer you can be exposed to the sun while wearing sunscreen before you begin to burn as opposed to how long it would take you to burn without sunscreen. The time it takes for someone’s skin to burn varies greatly with every individual, therefore, it is important to remember that sunscreen is not a one size fits all science.

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Question: How is the light spectrum measured?

Answer: Solar radiation consists of a continuous spectrum of wavelengths that reach the earth’s surface. The unit of measure for this radiation (UV and light) is the nanometer. One nanometer (nm) equals one billionth of a meter and spectrum ranges from 100 to 106 nanometers.

At one end of the spectrum you will find invisible ultraviolet light, with visible light somewhere in the middle and infrared light at the opposing end.

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Question: What is meant by UVA, UVB and UVC rays?

Answer: Ultraviolet radiation can be divided into UVA, UVB, and UVC rays.
The UVA region of the UV spectrum extends from 320nm to 400nm. While there is still much research to do regarding the effect of UVA rays, they are known to contribute to aging and skin cancer.

The UVB region of the UV spectrum extends from 290nm to 320nm. These rays produce sunburn, skin cancer, and photo aging.

The UVC region of the UV spectrum extends from 200nm to 290nm. UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer of the stratosphere and does not reach the surface of the earth.

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Question: What optimal ingredients protect skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays?

Answer: The Skin Cancer Foundation cites the FDA's approved list of active sunscreen ingredients, which includes Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, & others. Read the list here.

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Question: What is the difference between two different sunscreens with the same SPF?

Answer: Formulation. Many sunscreens have the same or similar active ingredients, but the difference is the base formula in which those active ingredients are placed. It is the formulation that determines how well a sunscreen works. That is why Rocky Mountain Sunscreen uses a Bonding Base formula that stays on the skin better, and lasts longer without clogging the pores of your skin.

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Question: Do I really need a sunscreen higher than SPF 30?

Answer: SPF 15 sunscreen is meant to allow the user 15 times their normal level of protection in the sun without sunscreen -- if applied properly. For example if you typically burn in 15 minutes, by wearing a SPF 15 sunscreen you should have [15 (minutes to burn) x 15 (SPF)] 225 minutes in the sun before your skin will begin to burn.

No sunscreen product provides 100% UV protection. Typically, a SPF 15 protects from 92% of UVB rays, SPF 30 from 97%, and SPF 45 from 98%. If you are fair-skinned, or expect to be in the sun for long periods of time, it would be wise to select an SPF that best matches your needs.

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Question: Can any single sunscreen product provide complete protection?

Answer: No product is a total sunblock. The normal range of protection is between 92-98% depending on the SPF rating and Broad Spectrum designation. The best available sun protection on the market is the sunscreen that meets the FDA claims: Broad Spectrum Protection, SPF 15 or higher, and Water Resistant (80 Minutes).

IMPORTANT: Practice a combination of sun-safe measures to insure optimum protection, such as avoiding the mid-day sun and wearing sun protective clothing such as a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a long-sleeved shirt. Please review Ten Rules to Save your Skin.

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Question: If I wear sunscreen, am I getting enough Vitamin D?

Answer: Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that serves many important functions in the body, including regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus (keeps our bones healthy), and is known to play a key role in protecting us from diseases like MS, heart disease, and even the flu. Although a few foods contain some Vitamin D, you get most of your daily requirement through sun exposure and/or by taking a Vitamin D supplement.

Critics of the sunscreen industry commonly site the fact that our body needs sun to produce Vitamin D. In fact, Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. So if you wear sunscreen, are you getting enough Vitamin D? The answer is YES.

Your body only requires a few minutes of daily sun exposure to produce enough Vitamin D. For people who spend a lot of time in the sun, safety measures like wearing protective clothing and sunscreen has little effect on Vitamin D levels. The overwhelming evidence is that most of us get TOO MUCH sun, which is why skin cancer rates continue to rise.

Remember, if you have fair skin, about 15 minutes of sun a couple times a week should be sufficient to get your Vitamin D. Also, a person with dark skin requires about 3-6 times more sun than a person with fair skin. If you happen to live in an extreme northern or southern climate where there is very little sun in winter, you may require a Vitamin D supplement to get the Vitamin D you need.

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Question: What happens to sunscreen in freezing conditions or excessive heat?

Answer: All of our sunscreen products have gone through freeze-thaw testing. Once sunscreen is frozen it will stay stable for long periods. We do not know the results of continuous freeze-thaws. Sunscreen containers should be protected from excessive heat and direct sunlight.

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Application Questions:

Question: Is it safe to transfer sunscreen to another bottle or container?

Answer: All Rocky Mountain Sunscreen bottles go through FDA testing and are safe to refill. By transferring sunscreen to a bottle or container that has not gone through FDA testing: the effectiveness of sunscreen can be compromised, RMS Formulas are no longer guaranteed, and a potential liability may incur.

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Question: Is it safe to use sunscreen on an infant?

Answer: It was previously believed that infants under six months should not wear sunscreen. However, according to the team at the American Academy of Pediatrics, “there's no evidence that using sunscreen on small areas of a baby's skin causes harm". In the August 1999 issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement that claims parents may use sunscreen on infants younger than six months when proper clothing and shade are not accessible. It is still recommended to avoid sun exposure all together or dress babies in lightweight long sleeved shirts and pants. Experts now say sunscreen is far less risky to babies than once thought, and not nearly as risky as unprotected exposure to the sun.

Children may have undetected allergies and sensitivities. Before going into the sun for the first time, test a sunscreen on a small spot on the skin. If the spot turns red or shows signs of irritation overnight, avoid the use of sunscreen and keep the child out of the sun until a dermatologist can determine the cause of the problem.

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Question: How much sunscreen should I apply? Is it true that most people don’t apply enough sunscreen?

Answer: Be generous with sunscreen. Apply liberally to cool, dry skin at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. In order to liberally cover all exposed parts of an adult body, it would take about 1 ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass). To achieve optimum protection, allow for 20-30 minutes of set up time.

It is true that people really do not apply enough sunscreen which results in decreased UVA/UVB protection. A thin application could reduce a sunscreen's SPF from 30 to 15! Another common problem is missed spots. Almost everyone who has used a sunscreen has at one time or another missed spots and received a sunburn. Often large parts of the body are missed. Frequent applications normally don’t help because the same application pattern that missed the spots the first time is repeated again and again.

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Question: Is it important to always reapply sunscreen?

Answer: The first application of the day is the most important and it is crucial to take the time to do it properly. Many things can affect the need to reapply sunscreen. Excessive sweating, toweling off, wind, and swimming all hamper the ability for sunscreen to remain on the skin and make reapplication important.

Sunscreen should be reapplied after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating; immediately after towel drying; at least every 2 hours.

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Question: Does a SPF 30 absorb twice as much as a SPF 15?

Answer: SPF ratings conform to the principle of diminishing returns. In other words, the larger the numbers are, the smaller the gain in protection. This point can be illustrated by an analogy of Farmer Joe's experience fertilizing his field. The first time Farmer Joe fertilizes his crops his production doubles. After seeing this increase in production Farmer Joe decides to double the fertilizer to double his production again. However, this time his production only increases by 25%. As he doubles his fertilizer time and time again, the percent of increase in production is minimal. The moral of the story is that more isn't always better.

A SPF 15 absorbs 64.6% of UVB radiation; a SPF 30 absorbs 97.0%, which is a 50% increase in protection. SPF 30 absorbs 97.0% and a SPF 45 absorbs almost 98%, this is less than a one percent increase in protection.

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Question: If you apply half the amount of sunscreen do you get half the protection?

Answer: When you use less sunscreen than recommended, large areas may end up with decreased or no protection at all. A good rule to follow is to always be able to feel the sunscreen under your fingertips as you apply.

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Question: If I apply a SPF 15, and then apply a SPF 30 or SPF 50, what level of protection do I actually get?

Answer: The SPF 15 would be attached to the skin because it was applied first. The SPF 30 would wash off quickly in water. In our real world beach tests, we found this to be the case. Our instruments indicated the overall absorbance didn't increase much when additional layers of product were applied.

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Skin Care Questions:

Question: Why should I be concerned about a sunburn or daily sun exposure?

Answer: You never completely recover from sunburn. The effects of daily sun exposure and especially sunburn are cumulative. The skin gradually loses its protective capabilities until symptoms of skin aging and cancer develop. A recent study shows that short periods of exposure to UVB radiation reduce the skin's ability to produce collagen and elastin. This is the hallmark of long-term exposure to UV radiation and is believed to be responsible for the wrinkled appearance of sun-exposed skin.

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Question: What is melanoma?

Answer: Melanoma, a very serious skin cancer, is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing tanning cells. Melanomas may suddenly appear without warning but can also develop from or near a mole. They are found most frequently on the upper backs of men and women or on the legs of women, but can occur anywhere on the body. Please visit our Skin & Sun page for more information on skin cancer.

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Question: How many people will develop melanoma this year?

Answer: According to the American Melanoma Foundation, there will be about 108,230 new cases of melanoma in 2007 – 48,290 in situ (noninvasive) and 59,940 invasive (33,910 men and 26,030 women). In 2007, at current rates, a person has a one in 33 chance of developing melanoma (both in situ and invasive). The risk of developing invasive melanoma is one in 63. One American dies of melanoma almost every hour (every 65 minutes). In 2007, 8,110 deaths will be attributed to melanoma – 5,220 men and 2,890 women. Older Caucasian males have the highest mortality rates from melanoma.

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Question: I’m young – why should I worry about skin cancer or my skin aging?

Answer: Daily sun exposure isn’t trivial. Even if you have limited daily exposure, it is still possible to get about as much sun in one to three months as in an afternoon at the beach. Sun damage is cumulative and it never completely heals. By wearing a daily sunscreen and practicing other sun safe measures, it will help reduce the dangers of skin cancer and premature aging.

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Question: Can some skincare products, medications, and allergies affect my sensitivity to the sun?

Answer: Yes. Some medications shift the skins UV sensitivity to a different area in the light spectrum where sunscreens don't provide protection. Some examples include diuretics, antibiotics, heart medications and NSAIDs. In some instances, sunscreens may impact or interfere with the effectiveness of the medication. Always check medications, including common OTC drugs, for sun warnings. Insect repellents and fragrances are examples of products that may produce an irritation or rash similar to an allergic reaction.

Here is a link to a WebMD feature by Leanna Skarnulis and reviewed by Brunilda Nazario MD that helps identify some of the culprits that can increase sun sensitivity: Beware of Sunburn Boosters

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Question: How does the human body protect itself from sunburn?

Answer: UV rays cause the skin to produce Melanin, a brown pigment, which acts as the body's natural sunscreen. In addition, gradual exposure to sunlight produces a thickening of the outer skin. These both exist to defend the skin from harmful radiation.

Skin peeling after a sunburn is another way the body protects itself. If a cell has a small amount of damage to its DNA, the damage will be repaired and continue to function normally. However, if the damage is excessive, the cell(s) will die because of an internal mechanism that won’t allow the cell to survive with such a mutation. It is the death of these gene-damaged cells that causes the skin to peel after a sunburn.

According to a study by Laurie Owen-Schwab, a protein named Fas is the key to this cell elimination process. For more information on this study, please read the following abstract at Sciencemag.org

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Question: Can I get sunburned on a cloudy day?

Answer: Absolutely. According to the World Health Organization, up to 80% of UV radiation can pass through the clouds.

Other environmental factors to consider include altitude, time of day, where you live, season, UV index, and UV reflection off of snow, sand or water. Check the UV index for your location here.

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