A Merging of Sun and Skin Care

  • Increasingly, the lines distinguishing sun care products from skin care products are blurred, as products in each segment are including claims and benefits from the other.
  • Skin care products are becoming increasingly multifunctional, and sun protection benefits are one of the top additions. However, they often don’t have the same level of effectiveness as dedicated sun care products.
  • Sun care products also are adding more skin care benefits into their formulations, but consumers often are hesitant to use them due to negative thoughts about the feel and texture of sun care. This offers opportunities for innovation.

These days, it seems as though the glare of the sun care category is making it increasingly difficult to see skin care as a separate category, as the divide between them becomes ever more blurred. Many skin care brands have continued to look for greater alignment with sun protection, prompted by recent developments such as the introduction of BB creams in Western Europe and North America and the rising demand for multifunctional products.

At the same time, consumer demand has led to an increase in sun care products with more skin care benefits. And this merging of skin care properties with sun protection is supporting a distinct global trend toward high factor sun protection across the beauty industry.

Sun Protection in Skin Care

Skin care products are becoming the new delivery method for sun care, a trend being driven by increasing global interest in beauty and wellness.

“Appearance is so important,” says Stephanie Sandrock-Beunat, strategic marketing manager, beauty care, Dow Consumer & Industrial Solutions. “It’s a universal truth that everyone wants to look good and avoid aging in order to remain attractive in our society.” With increasing awareness that the sun is the number one cause of skin aging, consumers are realizing the importance of protecting their skin from the sun and are demanding products with sun protection properties to help them combat these problems.

Consumers also are putting health first more than ever before. They understand the physical damage UV has on the skin, and they want to keep their bodies—including the skin—healthy, meaning they are active in taking the steps necessary to prevent skin cancer and other diseases. The skin is exposed to UV rays—especially the face—daily. Therefore, the industry’s greatest opportunity is for providing more protection in multifunctional daily wear products, according to Sandrock-Beunat.

Many beauty products have adopted a more holistic approach to the benefits they provide. Multifunctionality and categories tapping into the benefits touted by others have been key, as reported by Euromonitor’s Nicole Tyrimou. Many brands are increasingly seeking inspiration from skin care and are using natural ingredients or formulations for specific skin problems. Korres’ Yoghurt Sunscreen line and La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios AC SPF30 Extreme Fluid, which is dermatologically tested on acne-prone skin, are prime examples of this trend. Dow also is aiming to provide SPF with organic formulations to meet the needs of the growing natural market. “We’re looking into increasing performance of natural and more sustainable products,” explains Sandrock-Beunat.

There is a clear trend toward products with multitasking features as well. This is evident in the wider availability of BB creams across Europe and North America, and this has further opened up scope for cross benefits and functions, such as more effective sun protection in hairstyling products, combinations of sun protection for acne-prone skin, and after-sun care with whitening benefits, as exemplified by the Cettua After Sun-Stress Brightening Essence Mask, which is pre-moistened with concentrated arbutin and features a claimed whitening effect for the skin.

Creating more photostable products has been a primary R&D goal for many sun care companies, such as Lipotec, as well. Preventhelia—a tetrapeptide—prevents the damage caused directly or indirectly by UV irradiation to DNA and proteins. The translucent solution fights the detrimental effects of UV radiation in skin, protecting and repairing DNA, thus avoiding the signs of premature aging. Preventhelia can be incorporated in daily beauty product formulations where a photoprotective effect is desired, as well as sun care products.

The supplier also offers Lipochroman, designed to prevent skin from photoaging by protecting cellular DNA from oxidative stress induced by UVA radiation.

Higher SPF

Multifunctional skin care products could pose a threat to the sun care market as consumers are more accustomed to using them on a daily basis, and they benefit from lighter textures than sunscreens. However, typically the SPF in these products is much more diluted than in sunscreen products, and thus a lot more is needed for the UV protection stated to be effective.

A tendency toward higher SPFs in new skin care products helps offset this issue and also addresses consumer demand for greater protection. La Roche-Posay’s latest primer features SPF 50, while Olay ProX Age Repair Lotion features SPF 30, the highest protection factor in the range.

One of the challenges in providing SPF is that in order to achieve an effective SPF with high ratings—which will be the trend in the future—a high concentration of inorganic filters is required, resulting in poor product aesthetics, especially whitening on the skin.

“Currently the products in the market do not allow for high SPF with a nice sensorial feel,” says Sandrock-Beunat. “Aesthetics is the biggest challenge and what we are trying to address for the future, especially as SPF ratings expectations increase for maximum protection.” UV boosters would enable formulators to reduce the concentration needed for the same performance and enhance the sensorial properties.

Sandrock-Beunat also notes that it’s critical for the industry to be focused on UV boosters in order to provide protection and sensorial properties effectively in future formulations. Dow is pursuing encapsulation systems that will increase the photostability of inorganic filters for more efficient products. “This will be the game-changer for brand owners, who will be able to differentiate their line,” she says.

Not only is sun care an issue aesthetically, but consumers are concerned about the ingredients in their sunscreens, with a particular focus on the high concentration of chemical filters. With that in mind, La Roche-Posay, which recently received a Corporate Social Responsibility award from the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology for its Save Our Skin initiative, designed the Cell-Ox Shield XL complex. The synergistic combination of filters provides advanced UVA/UVB and antioxidant protection using fewer ingredients while maintaining broad-spectrum protection in a lightweight texture to enhance consumer compliance. La Roche-Posay reformulated the product to include fewer active ingredients by reducing the number of UV filters from previous formulations while the complex of antioxidants remains the same.

The next-generation technology appears in the newly launched Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid for the face and Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk for the body. Designed with optimal efficacy, safety and consumer compliance in mind, the products in the Anthelios 60 line feature fewer ingredients and are water-resistant for up to 80 minutes—the maximum time recognized by the FDA.

According to Angela Bennett, vice president with La Roche-Posay, this sunscreen uses 21% fewer ingredients while maintaining a broad-spectrum protection with an SPF of 60 in a lightweight, fast-absorbing texture. La Roche-Posay’s goal is for the products to feel luxurious when applied and be non-messy as well—fulfilling the brand’s objective of delivering a sunscreen formula with a great texture to help ensure people will apply and reapply it every two hours, as necessary.

In regions such as Asia-Pacific, which is the world’s fast-growing market overall, opportunities exist in a different way. “While it’s not a culture of going to the beach, the preference for white complexion makes sun protection important in products with whitening actives to protect the skin from getting darker,” says Sandrock-Beunat. For this region—specifically Southeast Asia—it is important to make UV protection resistant to sweat in high humidity for effective protection, she adds.

Sun Care With Skin Benefits

Having an SPF, however, may no longer be enough. Beauty brands have to satisfy as many functions in one product as possible. Nivea, for example, has launched multifunction sun care products successfully while continuing to reinvent itself, consolidating its position as a leading sun care brand and enjoying high levels of consumer trust.

As skin care brands offer more multifunctional sun protection/skin products, the blurring of the boundaries may also benefit sun care as they offer more skin care benefits and a more pleasing sensorial experience.

In a study conducted by Steven Q. Wang of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Dermatology Division, 86% of surveyed participants knew sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer when used with other protection measures. Yet, despite this knowledge, the majority do not use sunscreen on a regular basis. In fact, 51% of consumers do not apply sunscreen because they consider the texture too messy, sticky or greasy, according to a La Roche-Posay study.

To meet the market demand for water-resistant products with good skin feel, Dow Personal introduced its Epitex 66 Polymer. The emulsion was designed to address low tack to improve the feel on skin when the product is applied. It combines water-resistance with more pleasing skin aesthetics, as compared to conventional water-resistance technologies. “[The] Epitex 66 Polymer can address a fundamental issue—how their products feel when applied,” says Sandrock-Beunat. “Consumers want performance in a product that is easy to use and has a nice after feel.” Improved technology and innovative ingredients provide consumers with the sensorial properties they expect from a quality product.

Consumers also can apply sunscreen onto skin that is wet, without the unsightly whitening effects typically formed by standard water-resistant sunscreen formulas. Ashland’s HydroSheer water-resistant sun care formulations apply transparently on skin, even in the presence of water. Ashland developed the formulation after it discovered that hydrophobic film, under special formulating conditions, was miscible in water. The patent-pending continuous spray formulations contain Ashland’s Advantage Plus polymer and select Ceraphyl esters to provide clear films and bring an added level of convenience to consumers. Ashland’s Advantage Plus polymer reorients itself when interfaced with water, resulting in a more hydrophobic barrier. “The polymer self-adapts, moving above the active ingredient to prevent sunscreen from being removed,” explains Anna Gripp, global marketing leader for skin and sun care, Ashland Specialty Ingredients. “Consumers may now apply or re-apply water-resistant sunscreen at any time as there is no longer any need to dry off.”

The demand for protection across the globe continues to drive the sun care market, prompting companies to find new ways to increase their competitive advantage and differentiate by adding extra benefits such as anti-aging, moisturizing and protection from environmental factors. The convergence between skin care and sun care is expected to continue, and brands that operate across both categories will have to find the right balance to ensure success.

For more about the market implications of skin care products with sun protection properties and the overall forecast for sun care, read “Sun Care Entering a Twilight Period?

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

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