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Demand Grows for Sun Care Options

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: December 3, 2008, from the December 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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BASF: The main challenge is to get adequate UVA protection, particularly in high SPF (indicates UVB protection) formulations. Currently, most claim broad-spectrum protection, leaving the consumer confused about the amount of UVA protection. The new FDA Sunscreen Monograph proposal includes requirements for a ratio of UVA/UVB protection, so that high SPFs would also contain high UVA protection. Filters providing the highest UVA protection will be those containing zinc oxide and avobenzone, two popular UVA filters in the U.S.

Today, consumers can choose products such as tanning oils and lotions that provide one type of protection, but enhance a deeper, darker tan. A very low SPF, such as 2 or 4, may be acceptable, but with increased public awareness of the skin health and photoaging implications of UVA rays, these may lose popular appeal. When the new FDA Sunscreen Monograph goes into effect, both UVA/UVB protection will be necessary. Consumers that are informed about the dangers of UVA rays, such as melanoma cancer threats, would be inclined to purchase a product at a higher cost if it promotes greater protection. Since the majority of products already claim UVA/UVB protection, the differentiating factor will be sun care that contains inorganic or organic ingredients.

EY: Developing effective and safe sun care products involves strictly adhering to the regulations and guidelines established by the FDA, as well as countless third-party performance tests. In 2008, La Fresh worked with a dermatologist on a case study in which the doctor educated her patients of the importance of constantly protecting themselves from the harmful effects of UVA and UVB. The finding was that when provided a more convenient and portable form of sunscreen, the informed patients actively exercised preventive care during their daily routines. Consumer education at multiple levels (i.e., clinical and marketing) is, therefore, a crucial factor.

MS: There are serious challenges in formulating products for the U.S. market that provide high levels of both UVA and UVB protection. The reason is that the FDA has approved very few UVA absorbers, and the most effective of these, avobenzone, cannot be used with the most popular UVB absorber (octinoxate). New UVA absorbers approved in Europe would allow formulators to provide a high level of balanced UV protection, but until the FDA approves them for the U.S., a consumer-acceptable product with high UVA/UVB protection will be difficult to achieve.

GCI: How are the challenges of creating sun care ingredients, in general, different from creating ingredients for beauty products?