If you thought 2020 was aging you, you could be right.
Edit: A little disappointed to see Purito knew about the filters in 2019: https://medium.com/p/f63c7541ebae
Fans of Purito, take a shot, knock back a Xanax, grab your security blanket, and prepare yourselves for the worst.
And I’m the first to admit it: I was one of those fans.
Purito is one of the multiple brands that I keep on permanent rotation on my makeup/skincare stand. There are many reasons to do so-it’s incredibly lightweight, and has never aggregated my combination skin, which normally breaks out with fury whenever I dare to step out of line.
Plus, as someone with skin so pale I border translucent and/or looking extremely sickly, its line Purito Centella Unscented Sun boasts an impressively high SPF of 84+. Of course, until it didn’t.
But first, let’s breakdown what, exactly SPF is and why it’s important.
What, Exactly, is That Term I Know I’ve Heard Before?
SPF, the abbreviation for Sun Protection Factor, is oft thrown around the skincare community as a pre-qualifier for good skin. In short, it’s a measure of how successful a sunscreen is in protecting the user from UVB rays. For context, Q Sun estimates sun damage can be up to 90% responsible for skin aging, even when its pitted against alcohol, smoking, and, inevitably, actual aging. Another suggested that people under 55 who apply sunscreen on the regular have 24 percent less of a change of developing signs of aging on their skin.
And the higher the SPF number is, the longer the user can go without reapplying sunscreen. So, an SPF of 40 means that the user would take 40 times longer to burn than if nothing was applied.
Higher SPFs also let less UVA rays in than lower ones; the trick here is to not be lured into a false sense of skin security and to reapply your SPF 50 as frequently as you would an SPF 15 to not nullify any added benefits. Normally, this translates into applying a tablespoon of sunscreen every half an hour. This rule remains pretty static across all levels of SPF.
And with the constant depletion of our ozone, the threat of sun damage is only increasing: for years, popular theory was never to wear an SPF below 15; now doctors suggest twice that SPF, saying to aim for an SPF of, at least, 30.
So, no matter whether you use sunscreen, it matters, and SPF matters.
This brings me back to Purito.
In case you don’t follow the global skincare community the way some people follow their favorite sport team, the South Korean environmentally friendly brand “Purito” is a popular (80k + followers on Instagram) skincare staple, sold throughout Walmart, Amazon and others, that promotes “safe and clean philosophy” for their products, with simple ingredients which avoid dreaded sulfates & parabens. Moreover, they had sunscreen that boasted exceptionally high UV protection, until the founder of a cosmetics database, Judit Rácz, discovered otherwise this past Friday.
On 12/4, Incidecoder broke a story that rightfully prophesied might cause “discussion and controversy”. The ever-popular Purito Centella Unscented Sun, which had boasted an SPF of 84+, had been tested in two European labs. And each lab came back stating that the sunscreen could not have an SPF higher than 19.
In many cases of fraud, deception, simple incompetence, or mistakes, the results are often right before our eyes.
In this case, they may have just been on the back of the bottle. After all, Purito only used two low filter amounts (3% Uvinul A and 2% Uvinul T), which is surprising considering their claim of higher SPF.
For the record, sunscreen can protect us in two different forms: through the use of chemical filters or the use of mineral filters. Though there are many potential drawbacks to filters, their very presence is an indicator that sunscreen is effective, so it stands to reason that there is a direct relationship between the strength and/or amount of sunscreen filters used and how strong the actual sunscreen is.
When INCIDecoder founder, Judit, was contacted by a viewer about the aforenoted low filters, she was immediately suspicious.
Her suspicion wasn’t unfounded. A BASF calculator estimated the sunscreen had an SPF of 10, based on the filter numbers, a far cry less than the brand’s claim of an SPF of over 80.
She then followed up with her own sunscreen formulator to see if the numbers behind the Purito Centella brand made sense. The formulator got back to her and said the numbers didn’t, unsurprisingly.
But Judit decided to be extra cautious. She ordered multiple bottles of the brand and sent them to two different European labs for testing after stripping the bottles of any identifying brand insignia, to avoid testing bias.
The results were disappointing though not shocking, given the lead up it took to get there. Polish lab Ita-test returned stating that the sunscreen had a “SPF 15.8 with a standard deviation of 2.3, with UVA-PF 9.1 ± 1.” The second contacted lab, the German-based program, found similar results. They came back with a slightly more generous finding of an “SPF 19.2 ± 2.4.”.
At this time, it’s clear: there is no way this line by Purito boasts anything near an SPF of 50, let alone one of over 80.
Until the brand addresses the above, it makes sense to switch to another, the third party verified, brand or, at the very least, line.
This should also serve as a wake-up call to the entire skincare community: peer-reviewed data exists for this very reason, people! No skincare line should exist in a vacuum; claims should be verified and then verified again by multiple third parties.
That said, Purito is also addressing the skincare controversy head-on, via Instagram, admitting that they hadn’t formulated in-house, instead of outsourcing to another company, which oft results in a loss of transparency and of control.
So, it’s very possible, this could have been due to un-intentional error though that begs the question, how was such a weak SPF formulation classified as one that was over 80+? Was that also an error or did deception ever come into play? If the latter, how could the brand think they would never be caught out?
I’d like to think the former, since outsourcing can also cause breakdowns in communications and this doesn’t seem exactly like a Theranos-level gambit.
My hope is that the brand finds a way to fix this, and to recover, because if there are two things I don’t want to lose in 2020, it’s my skins’ even tone and a consistently strong skincare routine.