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No Sun Intended



Formulators reveal the challenges of incorporating UV protection into aesthetically-pleasing skin care products.



Published December 9, 2005
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For years, there was the notion of the "healthy tan," where the concept of baking brown in the sun was considered youthful, attractive and a sign of prosperity. That notion, thankfully, was dispelled when links between advanced sun exposure and health concerns such as skin cancer were brought to light by doctors and specialists, who recommended that sun exposure be limited to not only avoid cancer, but also prevent wrinkles, lines, age spots and other signs of premature aging.

Sunscreens were promoted, and when demand grew for a less greasy, easier year-round solution, marketers obliged by formulating products that incorporated UV protection into a moisturizer or makeup. Protection was made simple and easy to use, not just in summer, but all year long.

Educating consumers about the dangers of too much sun is more important than ever-especially after recent erroneous reports that sunshine may prevent cancer. These reports link the health benefits of vitamin D to sun exposure, and can lead to public confusion.

"For decades, dermatologists have advised the public to practice proper sun protection to prevent skin cancer, and that same advice holds true today, despite any claims to the contrary. While the health benefits of vitamin D are well known, prescribing sunshine to get vitamin D is highly irresponsible," stated dermatologist Clay J. Cockerell, M.D., president of the American Academy of Dermatology. "Even when wearing sunscreen, the average person receives enough incidental ultraviolet (UV) exposure through daily activities to achieve recommended vitamin D levels. People should not increase their exposure to either natural or artificial UV light because there is a high risk of developing skin cancer from repeated exposure."

Clearly, there's a growing need for everyday protection.


Anew's Ultimate Day hydrates while providing SPF 15 protection.

Facing the Challenge

According to Wendy Brackett, Olay senior scientist, consumers are starting to become more aware of the dangers of extended exposure to the sun, but they are still receiving more than they should. Many are now wearing sunscreen when they expect to get large doses, such as going to the beach or pool, but are still not protecting themselves on a daily basis.

"Olay has been working hard to educate consumers on how to best protect themselves against the damaging impact the sun has on skin and how a broad spectrum sunscreen product worn daily can help to minimize the level of UV exposure," she said. "Most women complain that regular sunscreens are too thick and greasy, making them wary of applying them daily. That's why using a daily moisturizer with broad-spectrum UV protection is a quick, easy way to stay protected. We know that even incidental sun exposure, such as going to the car, jogging to the mailbox or walking to the store, can cause skin damage."


Like other marketers, Innovative Skincare faces the challenges of formulating products with UV protection.

"However, both convenience and aesthetics, among other reasons, can be barriers to daily usage of sunscreen products. Having sun protection in a product that also delivers moisturization keeps their morning routines manageable," observed Ms. Brackett. Additionally, Olay skin care products with UV protection are designed to feel similar to products that don't contain sunscreen. This is a challenge in sunscreen development since the sunscreen ingredients themselves are heavy, greasy or sticky often making the product aesthetics undesirable, which decreases the chance of daily usage," Ms. Brackett continued.

Formulated with broad-spectrum SPF 15, Olay's Complete Multi-Radiance Daily Illuminating UV lotion in Normal and Fragrance Free contains vitamins E, B3 and Pro-vitamin B5 to hydrate skin's outer layer and even skin tone. Mandarin extract and natural reflecting particles instantly transform skin surface, amplifying light in multiple directions to enhance radiance.

Avon Products Inc. has no less than 12 products containing SPFs in its Avon and Anew lines. Most recently Avon launched the new Ultimate Day Transforming Lift cream SPF 15. According to Dana Schiller, public relations and promotions specialist for Avon, sales representatives have played a key role in educating consumers both in the U.S. and globally about the danger of sun exposure and how they can protect themselves.


Olay's Complete Multi-Radiance formula helps protects against incidental rays.

"As customers become more aware of the implications of sun exposure, they are making every effort to protect themselves. The key is to make sun protection easy without compromising any of the desired benefits, said Ms. Schiller. "When we formulate a daily use day product, we know that having broad-band UVA/UVB protection is one of the necessary components."

This isn't as easy as it looks. "Incorporating UV protectants/absorbers into products can increase the level of technical challenge to the formulator due to their incompatibilities with other commonly used cosmetic ingredients," Ms. Schiller added. "Sunscreens can also add a level of complexity in terms of odor, texture, cost and shelf life of the product. The formulation and testing process is longer and more involved, not only to ensure the integrity and performance of our products, but to ensure that the different regulations and SPF/UVA testing requirements are satisfied globally."


Pharmaskincare offers Cover Mild and Cover Mid SPF 15 for use with or without makeup.

Pharmaskincare, Sun Valley, CA, has launched Cover Mild and Cover Mid SPF-15, rich antioxidant vitamin moisturizers formulated as a hydrating base for skin, with or without makeup. The lightweight moisturizer is designed to protect with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, along with a boost of antioxidants which reduce free radical skin damage. Cover Mild is for medium to dark complexions and Cover Mid is for light complexions. Pharmaskincare products combine the antioxidant power of vitamin C and titanium dioxide, a highly reflective non-comodogenic mineral that provides a physical block. Other current best-selling products include the C Complex moisturizer SPF15; Solar C Complex SPF 30 and Acnecare.

According to Francis Escutin, grooming editor and marketing consultant for Pharmaskincare, the biggest challenge was the conception, dynamics and completion of a sun care product that meets the discerning taste of different consumers.

"Our team of chemists ensure that our products adhere to the regulations in sunscreen production in the U.S. and worldwide (FDA approved and GMP regulated) and that consumer demands are satisfied by contributing their valuable insights into the cosmetic aspects of sunscreen, waterproofing and daily use considerations," explained Mr. Escutin.

"As more people become aware of the dangers of unprotected exposure to the sun, attitudes are shifting from a sun-tan to a sun-protection behavior. Even the younger consumer who wants a tan is cautious about sun damage and skin cancer, with one million cases diagnosed annually. Daily moisturizers with SPF are highly favored."

With the growing risks of sun exposure, Pharmaskincare is currently launching a "sun-safety" education program featuring educational website information, e-mail merges, newsletters and direct marketing activities.

L'Oréal Paris offers a plethora of products with UV protection, including Men's Expert Stop Lines moisturizer SPF 15, ReFinish Micro-Dermabrasion Kit Step 2 Post-Treatment moisturizer SPF 15, Wrinkle De-Crease SPF 15, Revitalift Complete SPF 18, Visible Results SPF 15, Age Perfect day cream SPF 15 and Active Defense moisturizer.

Susan Bang, director of public relations for L'Oréal said that most consumers today are educated, savvy and basically understand the detrimental effects of sun exposure. They increasingly look for formulas with broad spectrum protection and even specific sunscreens such as avobenzone.

Manufacturers must master the aesthetic challenges of incorporating broad-spectrum protection in their products to remain competitive in the marketplace. This requires a combination of several sunscreens (organic and/or inorganic) that have the potenial to leave undesirable aesthetics such as a heavy, sticky or a whitening effect. Knowledge of the universe of emollients, silicones and powders that counteract undesirable properties in the base formula is crucial in order to develop an aesthetically acceptable formula."

Innovative Skincare president Bryan Johns agrees there is a challenge in formulating skin care with UV protection.

"Heretofore it has been extremely difficult to include effective, deliverable botanical antioxidants or 'healing' botanicals in a sunscreen, as the chemical sunscreen actives destroy the efficacy of those ingredients. Also, we believe that the best broad-spectrum UV protection arises from both physical and chemical sunscreen active ingredients. The physical sunscreen actives (titanium or zinc) are designed to lay on top of the skin. It is difficult to design a product where some of the formulation is designed to penetrate the skin while laying on the surface of the skin at the same time," said Mr. Johns. "We overcame these challenges by utilizing a new nano-encapsulation process that isolates the chemical sunscreen active from the rest of the formulation. The chemical active lays on top of the skin and absorbs the UV rays within its nanocapsule."


It's a never-ending search for aesthetically-pleasing, broad-based protection.

Another challenge is user awareness. Mr. Johns acknowledges that consumers are becoming more savvy of the effects of sun exposure, however, they are not always aware that SPF is a non-linear measurement-for example, an SPF 30 only provides a few more percent protection over the approximately 93% protection level of an SPF 15. Also, he finds that consumers rely on high SPF ratings to stay in the sun for very long periods of time, because they have a false understanding of the true protection provided.

Innovative Skincare has marketed two moisturizing sunscreen creams (tinted and untinted), a continuous spray moisturizing sunscreen, and two sunscreen powders (translucent and tinted).

Beiersdorf's Eucerin line includes Extra Protective Moisture lotion SPF 30, Redness Relief Daily Perfecting lotion SPF 15 and Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Sensitive Skin lotion SPF 15. Alexandra Kowcz, vice president of R&D, noted that as topics such as ozone depletion and skin cancer continue to gain publicity, especially during the summer, more consumers are opting for better sun protection.

"The biggest challenge is always to create an efficacious product to provide the required sun protection, while at the same time, making the formulation aesthetically pleasing to insure consumer compliance and usage," she stated. "If a consumer likes the way a product feels and smells, they are more likely to use it. In addition, the new products combining sunscreens with insect repellents and self-tanners present their own specific technical challenges."

Sven Fey, director of product development for Nivea claims the development of modern skin care formulations with sunscreens is both science and art. Besides protection against UVB radiation, another concern is defense against UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin.

Duck and Cover

Almost every skin care brand on the market offers a solution for sun protection. For daily use in the morning, Cell-Rx offers Face moisturizer containing targeted peptide technology (TPT) to reduce the appearance of lines. Infused with SPF 15, it protects the face from sun damage and addresses the common complaint of uneven skin tone using Etioline, a concentration of botanical extracts.

Stila's Petal Infusions skin care line features the Skin Visor SPF 30, which promises to shield skin from the sun while revitalizing it with antioxidants. It contains burnet root, wheat germ, grapeseed and titanium dioxide for physical sunblock protection. It also contains essential oils such as licorice root and rosemary leaf extract to soothe the psyche.


Avon makes sun protection easy without compromising the desired benefits.

The Sunny Road Ahead

As the more cautious consumer moves toward products incorporated with sun-protection, concerns with product benefits and versatility arise.

According to Francis Escutin, Pharmaskincare, "Our R&D department is currently developing an extensive line of sun care products by offering improvements consumers want. Our products contain not only high SPF protection, but also offer long-term water resistant, non-running and non-greasy hypoallergenic applications. We are launching new products to cater to all ages with the key benefits of intensive protection and improved convenience."

"In addition, Pharmaskincare is currently developing a full makeup line with UV protection-including lipsticks, foundations, bronzers, blushes, eyeshadows and more."



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