Like any other small community, the Outer Banks likes to take care of its own. The Outer Banks Voice, a local online web publication keeps us current on events, news and general community information. They featured our Dr. Jeff Pokorny’s creation, BANXblock in one of their recent posts. Check their site often, outerbanksvoice.com for the local scoops.

Dr-Jeff-Pokorny1OBX doctor creates a natural, skin-friendly sunscreen

By Russ Lay on August 12, 2014

Last month we ran a story about local businesswoman, Manveena Singh, who is trying to launch an organic, chemically safe line of skin care products. Shortly after that article appeared our sales staff sent us a new ad for a sunscreen called BanxBlock.

I was intrigued and clicked on the ad and discovered its creator is a local surgeon who had treated me in the past. And, not only do we love local businesses at the Voice, Outer Banks companies that are expanding their presence beyond the local market especially intrigue us.

BanxBlock is the creation of Dr. Jeff Pokorny of Carolina Coastal and Outer Banks Plastic Surgery. Pokorny is a board certified plastic surgeon with 11 years of experience. He began practicing in Pennsylvania, specializing in plastic, hand and melanoma surgery and served as Chief of Plastic Surgery at Guthrie Clinic in the same state. He then relocated to the Outer Banks, where he sees patients in Elizabeth City and Regional Medical in Kitty Hawk.

Like many new products, BanxBlock’s original origins came from research for a totally different application.

“As a plastic surgeon, I am frequently asked, ‘What should I put on my scars?’ That was the question that started the process of creating BanxBlock. Many of the over-the-counter scar treatments fail to hold up to scientific scrutiny,” Pokorny told us.

As it turns out, sunscreen is the most important treatment for new scars, and Pokorny’s hope was to develop a sunscreen product that contained ingredients scientifically proven to help with scars such as Dimethicone, Vitamin C and licorice extract.

BanxBlock contains all three.

As Pokorny continued his research, he also came across data indicating tremendous increases in the incidence of skin cancers.

“Between 1992 and 2006 the rate of skin cancer has increased by 77 percent and between 2006 and 2010, the rate of the most serious of skin cancers, melanoma, has increased 2.7 percent,” Pokorny said.
Even more alarming, since 1975, the incidence of melanoma has increased three-fold, from a rate of seven per 100,000 people to 22 per 100,000 people in just three decades.

These statistics are even more puzzling when we consider that the increase in incidences of skin cancers is occurring even though the use of sunscreen among individuals has skyrocketed over the same period of time. Upon discovering these startling statistics, Pokorny decided to change the focus of his new product from a scar cream to a sunscreen that was both safe to apply, is absorbed through the skin and is truly effective in blocking the ultraviolet radiation that causes skin cancer.

Since Australia and New Zealand suffer from the highest rates of skin cancer on the planet, sunscreens are “serious business” in those countries. Pokorny’s research revealed zinc oxide is the favored sunscreen in those countries. The reason is that zinc, by itself, blocks almost all ultraviolet radiation. Zinc and its “partner” in those sunscreens, titanium dioxide, are considered physical barriers to the sun’s radiation. The reason they are so effective is that both are actually metal particles that reflect the ultraviolet radiation similar to the way a mirror reflects light.

But there is some controversy and concern within the medical community about both zinc oxide products and more conventional sunscreens. In the case of zinc oxide and titanium, those metal particles are actually nano-particles than can be absorbed by the skin. While there is no current scientific evidence demonstrating the tiny particles are dangerous, Pokorny says a theoretical risk exists that they could insert themselves into individual cells.

For conventional sunscreens, oxybenzone is often used and is a known carcinogen and is also collected in endocrine tissue. Another popular ingredient, retinyl palmitate, has been shown to cause skin cancer when exposed to the sun’s rays. In both cases, there is division within the medical community on the dangers of these two ingredients, but enough information has been put into circulation to give pause to many consumers. BanxBlock seeks to avoid these controversies by using ingredients that are not subject to these concerns.

“We chose to avoid nano-particles in our sunscreen, but the result is a white sheen that the product leaves on the skin. This can be minimized by rubbing the product in thoroughly.” Pokorny says.

As to the other ingredients in conventional sunscreens, Pokorny adds, “Where we truly differentiate our product from other sunscreens, however, is in the inactive ingredients. We focused on using natural ingredients that we know will not hurt the skin.”

“In fact, our inactive ingredients contain many substances that are known skin care products. Vitamin C,green tea extract and licorice extract are natural anti-oxidants that have been shown to fade sunspots, reduce scars and have anti-aging properties. The ingredients in our sunscreen are safe and recognizable.”

As use of BanxBlock has grown, feedback from customers has revealed additional benefits. BanxBlock is not greasy like many sunscreens, and this has made it a favorite among surfers.

It also contains beeswax, a known anti-acne agent, and customers who usually suffer from acne breakouts in the summer have reported BanxBlock use has reduced or eliminated them.

While all sunscreens should be re-applied after water activity, Pokorny also notes customers have found that our product is “extremely water resistant — it is literally hard to get off. That is a good thing when one is trying to prevent skin cancer.

“We have heard many individuals comment on how much softer their skin feels after using BanxBlock.”

And perhaps a final bonus — BanxBlock does not run into your eyes.

The FDA recommends sunscreen be applied every two hours and after water activity. Apart from beach-goers, the Outer Banks is home to many workers who toil all day in the sun—roofers, landscapers, lifeguards, fishermen and others.

“If you are in the sun all day every day and are applying sunscreen every two hours, we wanted to make sure that all of our ingredients are safe even in substantial doses.”

Pokorny is proud that BanxBlock is a locally made product and a portion of all profits go to the Outer Banks Community Foundation — providing yet another incentive to use the new sunscreen.

BanxBlock is already being sold in five states — North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Locally it is available in several stores.