A Place in the Sun

  • Secondary benefits are expected from today’s sun care products.
  • Globally, the appropriate UVA/UVB ratio is among the main challenges in sun care, but feel remains a close second.
  • Going beyond what consumers even realize they need is what will make brands stand out.
  • Sun protection is increasingly important in everyday products, with a growing demand for SPF-containing beauty products.

“... Cause there’s a place in the sun where there’s hope for everyone ...” —Stevie Wonder

The market for sun protection products—which is expected to be worth $7.6 billion globally by 2014, according to Euromonitor International (which reported on the sun care market in GCI magazine’s May 2010 issue) is being driven primarily by increasing consumer awareness of the importance of sun protection. While people in the western countries, in particular, still value a long-lasting tan, they are much more aware of the negative and sometimes irreversible impact intense sun exposure without effective sun protection can be.

The role of UVA protection in preventing premature aging has also been recognized, and sales in the market are being boosted by sun care products that offer broad-spectrum protection, with consumers having pushed the need for complementary ingredients for better protection.

But sun care products are also required to do more than protect the skin from the sun these days. “Secondary benefits such as slimming, firming, body shaping or sun tan acceleration and prolongation are highly in demand, bearing witness to the fact that sun care is becoming a seasonal beauty ritual rather than just something needed to protect your skin,” said Esther Prat, strategic marketing manager, sun care Europe, Cognis. In addition, sensorial benefits are a primary focus, as well as antiaging or even the protection of skin cells or of specific skin functions, such as the skin’s immune system.

As a result of such rising consumer expectations, innovation has been boosted worldwide, while manufacturers develop new products with added value. But in the end, it still comes down to education, as consumers need to learn proper use and reapplication for the optimal benefit, prompting new ideas for more convenient or unique formats.

Boosting SPF

Suppliers are putting time and energy into research and development to provide concepts dedicated to a wide range of cosmetic applications, offering high-tech solutions to ensure optimal skin protection against UVB- and UVA-induced damage.

Last fall, ISP Personal Care announced the addition of a new sun care UV filter to its portfolio that has been designed to provide broad-spectrum protection against damaged caused by exposure to the sun. Available to brand owners outside the U.S., Escalol S offers protection in both the UVA and UVB ranges of the light spectrum in a single ingredient. “It also can boost the performance and the stability of other commonly used UV filters, creating synergies that offer higher SPF ratings for UVB radiation and photostability of UV filters that result in longer-lasting UVA protection,” said Anna Gripp, marketing manager, sun care, ISP. Should the ingredient be approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), ISP has plans to market Escalol S in the U.S.

According to Gripp, the technology represented in Escalol S responds to a consumer market that is increasingly concerned with the consequences of prolonged exposure to the sun, in an ingredient that meets the formulating and sensory requirements of the beauty industry. “More than ever, consumers and regulatory agencies are focused on the potential damage of UVA radiation to skin and to overall health,” she said. The major trend in sun protection is toward broad-spectrum protection—from both UVA and UVB radiation. Escalol S is a technology the company claims can form the keystone of the UV filter package in sunscreen products.

In order to comply with the new regulations for sunscreens in Europe that require a 1:3 ratio of UVA to UVB protection, natural-positioned brand owner Lavera has reformulated its existing products by introducing zinc oxide. The change is a challenge for brand owners of natural-positioned sunscreen products, and have caused many European brands to pull products off shelves. But with the sales and prominence of natural beauty products growing, brands such as Lavera remain committed to providing a formulation that meets these new European standards. “Knowing that consumers can trust our brand to both protect them from the sun’s harmful rays [and] harmful ingredients is priceless to us,” said Ulrike Jacob, CEO.

Similarly, Beyond Coastal’s goal is to produce clean true broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreens that are not harmful to the body. “We have worked hard to ensure that we use the cleanest and healthiest chemical actives and that all our inactive ingredients meet standards,” said John Bercaw, director of marketing for Beyond Coastal and Chums, which owns the U.S. brand. “There is a demand for active formulas by many who want fast-absorbing transparent sunscreens.” The brand’s natural formulas feature antioxidants—such as matrixyl and rigin—and antiaging and nourishing properties through ingredients such as yerbe mate, green tea extract, aloe, jojoba seed oil and sodium hyaluronate yeast extract.

“Manufacturing clean and natural sunscreens at an acceptable price point is difficult under current FDA regulations,” said Bercaw. “Getting the FDA to approve more actives and developing more potent natural preservatives is the biggest challenge.” Many actives approved by the FDA are not in line with nongovernmental organization (NGO) standards that many natural brands follow, and many actives approved in these standards can be incredibly expensive.

Such innovation is key to developing more powerful sunscreens that can also meet demand for more natural products, and getting the right balance of skin protection and restoration is an ongoing process.

Feelin’ Good

Globally, formulators see reaching the right UVA/UVB ratio as the main challenge in sun care, but not far behind is the texture—even more so in Europe. The trend to higher SPF and the need for better UVA protection as well as the implementation of the UVA/UVB standard forces formulators to increase the amount of both organic and mineral filters, resulting in a negative impact on the texture. Experts contend there is still a certain difficulty for consumers to adopt creams with high SPF, due to an unpleasant skin feeling when applied. A need to maintain a fresh, light texture that spreads easily and absorbs quickly challenges formulators and increases the complexity of formulas.

As brand owners look to meet these requirements, they need high-performance ingredients and effective control over their products’ sensory properties. Ingredient suppliers aim to help their customers by offering emollients, emulsifiers and active ingredients that work together to combine product performance with ease of formulation.

Cognis has launched two such new products. In spring 2009, the supplier announced Eumulgin Prisma, which makes the formulation of even the highest SPFs an easier task and has no negative impact on sensoriality. Eumulgin Prisma belongs to a new generation of emulsifiers, according to Prat, and the high-performance emulsifier is compatible with high levels of water-soluble sunscreens and actives.

Cetiol C5 is a light emollient from 100% natural renewable feedstock, launched by the company in April 2010. It can be used as an alternative to feel-enhancer cyclomethicone, a silicone on some NGO watch lists. While in some cases cyclomethicone is used in formulations to balance the sensorial properties, it does not enhance filter solubility, according to Cognis. Cetiol C5, on the other hand, combines good solving properties for sun filters with a cyclomethicone-like feel.

From Evonik, ABIL Care XL 80 is a new emulsifier that provides a combination of stabilization and sensory benefits—such as a velvety, light after-feel. It has been developed specifically to ensure optimal emulsion stability while enabling a smooth feel within a lotion or spray product for any type of skin.

Silicones also provide formulators with choices for a variety of sun care product forms and delivery systems, from creams to lotions, sprays to sticks, mousses to gels with pleasing formulation aesthetics. Advanced technology offers silicones that are substantive on the skin to help prevent wash-off—so sun care products can work better and last longer as well.

Dow Corning offers silicone fluids that can be combined with organic or inorganic sunscreens to boost the SPF of sun care formulations, making it possible to develop products with greater protection, enhanced claims and no added cost. Or, in children’s products or those designed for sensitive skin, it may be possible to use lower levels of a potentially irritating sunscreen active while still maintaining the desired degree of protection.

“Silicone elastomers are increasingly used to impart distinctive textures and sensory effects, but incompatibility with organics has posed a formulating challenge,” said Michael Starch, industry scientist, Dow Corning Beauty Care. New silicone organic elastomer blends from Dow Corning claim to be more compatible with organic materials and actives than traditional silicone elastomer gels, without compromising the characteristic textures and sensory performance.

“The silicone organic elastomer blends offer formulation flexibility with organics and lipophilic active ingredients, including vitamins and sunscreens,” said Starch. “They can be used to create clear systems with organic components, and they enhance the aesthetics of [various] formulations.”

Beyond Broad-spectrum

Going beyond what consumers even realize they need is what will make brands stand out. Products with added benefits that protect and prepare the skin by its daily use to withstand the next exposure will make skin more resilient to solar radiation. “The goal is to gradually position skin to a healthier state, allowing it to tolerate insult from the environment,” explained Nicholas Pokoluk, co-founder, Wellness Formulations, LLC.

“The need to protect skin from UV-irradiation is well understood, and the use of UVB and UVA filters largely provides such protection,” said Cognis’ Pratt. “However, even if UV filters are used and there is no visible damage to the skin, subchronic UV exposure can lead to damage on a cellular level, which can affect the immune system of the skin and lead to premature aging.” To counter this, Laboratoires Sérobiologiques has elaborated the concept of cyto-photo-immuno-protection. The result was the development of the supplier’s active ingredient Photonyl, a complex of naturally occurring cyto-chromophores able to absorb the energy of photons and thus prevent sun damage. It provides protection of Langerhans cells, which play an important role in the skin’s immune system against UV-induced alteration.

Induchem, too, is furthering its sun protection platform by launching ingredients to sustain skin immunity against UV aggression, such as stimulating proteins involved in skin barrier and wound healing and by protecting Langerhans cells, the immunity sentinels, according to Giorgio Dell’Acqua, director of R&D, Induchem.

Induchem has already developed novel sun protection in the form of Unirepair to boost the natural repair of UV-damaged DNA and Uniprotect to sustain oxidation repair. “High SPF products are not sufficient to completely protect from UV-induced oxidation,” said Dell’Acqua. Uniprotect is used to increase the spectrum of protection, protecting skin from UV-induced protein oxidation by boosting enzymatic and nonenzymatic repairing systems. It is able to stimulate enzymes responsible for repair, and demonstrates the necessity of associating to UV filter skin boosting defense ingredients to achieve a better skin protection. Uniprotect’s protective effect is related to its stimulation of the enzymatic repair system rather than blocking UV rays. The ingredient could be used in conjunction with UV filters in a sun care product to give a more complete protective effect, according to the company.

Dermal Renu’s daily wear sunscreen Sunshield is a complement to the brand’s Anti-Aging Skin Care System, introduced earlier in 2010. The mineral-based sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection from sun damage caused by UVA and UVB rays while fighting the signs of aging through a unique combination of ingredients.

The goal was to protect against total solar radiation—UV as well as infrared, while also addressing what happens to the skin after exposure. “In the not too distant future, infrared will be an integral part of how good scientific-based companies will address solar radiation,” offered Nick Pokoluk, the brand’s developer. “This is where sun care is heading and the problems researchers should be addressing are in this area.”

UV radiation protectants in Sunshield beyond the actives include red algae extract, which has been shown to have UVA-absorbing properties; caffeine, an immunosuppressant inhibitor shown to increase the rate of epitasis of damaged keratinocytes and reducing squamous cell skin cancer development; milk thistle extract, a UV immune suppressing inhibitor; green tea extract, which has been found to inhibit melanoma formation as well as having antiglycation benefits; and niacinamide, which protects against UV radiation-inflicted damage.

Antiglycation is central to the unique formulation. “Glycated proteins sensitize the skin to UV radiation,” explained Pokoluk. “The more there are, the more a given dose of solar radiation will do harm.” Sunshield’s antiglycation agents—Pueraria mirifica extract and carnosine—help slow down the glycation process (in which a sugar molecule bonds to a protein or lipid molecule without the controlling action of an enzyme, disrupting normal metabolic pathways), which is intensified by exposure to the sun. The ingredients also support healthy protein structure and function, as well as promote natural collagen and elastin production in the skin.

One of the issues with exposure to solar radiation is the way it suppresses the immune system aspects of the skin. According to Pokoluk, research shows that even passive exposure (without so much as a slight burn) to solar radiation is compromising the immune system, which is part of the process that leads to the development of skin cancer.

The sunscreen also utilizes a unique delivery system that is similar to transdermal drug delivery. “We have built a delivery system that allows for a slower and longer extended release into the skin, which is a more appropriate way of delivering actives,” explained Pokoluk. This required blending two aspects to keep sunscreen on the surface while delivering other active ingredients at the same time. According to him, that would be impossible to do with most liquid chemical sunscreens.

Sun Care in Other Segments

Sun protection is increasingly important not just in sunscreens but also in everyday products. A growing demand for SPF-containing beauty products, such as antiaging skin care as well as after-sun products that offer antiaging benefits, are a key driver in this particular market segment.

“Consumers have grown increasingly knowledgeable about sun protection and its importance,” said Dana Dillon-Townes, Redken marketing manager. “In particular, more consumers are using SPF protection on a daily basis as opposed to on a seasonal basis and during times of extended sun exposure.” For that reason, there is an increased demand for daily protectants that guard the face, body and even scalp. UV protection is readily available in skin creams and lotions, eye creams and color cosmetics, and the range of products continues to expand, giving brands an opportunity to stand out on the shelf as consumers wise up to the need for protection, every day and everywhere.

Redken is utilizing sun protection as a point of difference for its Color Extend hair care line. The brand recently introduced Sun Solar Screen SPF to its collection, to prevent sun burnt scalps while helping to strengthen, protect and replenish sun-stressed hair. Dillon-Townes emphasizes that when hair is left unprotected, UV rays can burn scalp skin and penetrate into the cortex and strip away the cuticle causing color to fade and hair to become dull, rough and prone to frizz and flyaways.

There are challenges to the formulation because SPF technology can be heavy and can leave the skin greasy or oily. “This is particularly noticeable on hair,” explained Dillon-Townes. “Solar Screen manages to deliver SPF 12 protection to sun-exposed scalps while providing lightweight replenishment without being greasy.”

Movin’ On

It is relatively easy to create sun care products today, with dozens of base formulas available. “But as consumers gain a better understanding of basic sun facts, they demand more efficacious, easier to use products that are long-lasting and truly protect them from the sun,” said Greg Tobias, vice president of product development, Astral Brands, whose CosMedix brand launched in 2009 with UVA and UVB sun care protection. “Many of today’s sunscreens degrade too quickly, leaving the consumer unknowingly unprotected. Innovation allows us to take skin protection to a new level.”

More efficacious sunscreens can be manufactured using newly discovered active ingredients such as algae that have a natural sun defense and phytosterols from plants that have natural sun protection factors. Used in conjunction with ingredients, they provide a better, more efficacious product.

When developing innovative sun care products, it is essential to consider the performance of the ingredients used, and the synergistic effects that can be achieved. “The innovation in ingredients, together with the knowledge of these synergies in formulations, is basic for continuous improvement in sun protection,” said ISP’s Gripp.

And while consumers must have a change in mind-set that views sun protection as part of their whole body wellness regimen, it’s the responsibility of brand owners to bring scientific-based products to market over the next several years to meet the needs of consumers. As brands innovate and suppliers provide ingredients that can provide the necessary protection, consumers will be in the driver’s seat.

Sara Mason is a freelance writer based in the Chicagoland area. She was previously managing editor of GCI magazine.

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