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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.

page 5 of 5

GCI: How has the growing importance of both aesthetic appeal and protective attributes in sun care products impacted their creation? Has it become inherently more difficult because there is a need to focus on more than simply providing protection? Or does this actually expand the sun care market by creating sun care products that a consumer may choose and use for moisturizing benefits, for example?

JP: Aesthetic factors are very important, and can enhance or limit product sales. For example, many consumers prefer organic sunscreens. The inorganic types feel less pleasant, both in application and on the skin. In general, people won’t use products that aren’t easy and pleasant to apply and comfortable to wear, and that is especially true for products such as moisturizers that are used every day. All sun protection products work by forming a uniform, oil-phase film on the skin within which the active ingredients—the protective UV filter molecules—are evenly dispersed. If not formulated properly, the protective film can feel greasy and unpleasant. Creating sun protection products that people want to use is the essence of good formulation.

GCI: What challenges are there in creating water- and sweat-resistant products that feel pleasant on the skin and still provide UV protection?

BASF: One key challenge is formulating ingredients that will prevent wash-off of the UV filter with minimum alteration to the skin-feel. Many products are lotions or creams that contain emulsifiers to make the oil and water mix better. However, they also contribute to washing off the oil-based UV filters. The most aesthetically pleasing lotions tend to be water-continuous, and the emulsifiers for these enhance wash-off of the oil. Oil continuous or oil-based formulations have higher water resistance, but can be perceived as greasy-feeling. Hydrophobic film-forming polymers provide good wash-off protection, and care must be taken to choose those that do not give the skin a tight feel or rub off readily.