Poor Weather, Economy Cloud European Sun Care

By Imogen Matthews | April 3, 2013

Sales of sun care products in Europe are strongly linked to the weather, which has been dominated by gray skies and cool temperatures during the past few summers. Coupled with a bleak economic outlook resulting in fewer consumers taking holidays abroad, the prospects for sun care appear fairly gloomy. However, there are some bright spots, including a growing consumer awareness of the dangers of sun damage and the need to use products with higher SPFs. And if the sun fails to shine, many Europeans (especially the fair-skinned British and Germans) still want to look tanned, so they are opting for self-tanners and bronzers.

When money is tight, sun care is clearly not a priority versus other essential consumer goods. According to Euromonitor, value sales of sun care in 2012 stagnated across Spain, France and Germany and declined 2.5% in the UK. Only in Italy was there a slight 1% rise in sales by year-end.
The latest Euromonitor figures value Italy as the largest European market for sun care, worth more than $473 million in 2012. The sun care markets in Spain and France are a little smaller, weighing in at approximately $450 million and $427 million, respectively. UK sun care sales totaled $385.4 million, while the smallest of the “Big 5” markets is Germany, at $126.6 million.

Euromonitor values the UK as the biggest market for self-tanning products, worth $65.8 million in 2012 and growing 7.3% year-on-year. Meanwhile, NPD Group’s research shows that UK prestige bronzing and self-tanners were up 3.8%, to reach $29.1 million, despite the credit crunch.

“We see that bronzing products are increasingly preferred over self-tanning products and this is where the real growth lies,” said June Jenson, director for the beauty team, NPD. “A rise of nearly 12% in sales of bronzing products during a recession shows that British people definitely have a significant appetite for a golden glow year round.”

NPD Group data shows that overall premium sun care sales have come under pressure in 2012, with a decline in sales across the UK, France, Italy and Spain. Premium sun care sales in Italy were $69.2 million (-3.8%); France totaled $38.0 million (-2.4%), Spain $22.9 million (-10.7%) and the UK was $18.9 million (-8.3%).

According to Mintel, Italy, France and the UK are the most active markets when it comes to NPD, together accounting for 60% of all European launches in the year to June 2012, based on its GNPD monitoring service. Recent new launches have focused on protecting sensitive skin and formulations that perform under different conditions, such as on wet skin, or that help to promote melanin synthesis.

Sun Care for Sensitive Skin

Skin sensitivity is a concern for many Europeans. According to new research by L’Oréal, more than 50% of UK consumers claim to have sensitive skin. Furthermore, Mintel has noted that 51% of sun care products manufactured in Europe are flagged as dermatologically-tested in Europe, compared to 40% globally.

Brands like Nivea and Lancaster are harnessing new technology when formulating sun care products.

Across Europe this summer, L’Oréal-owned Garnier Ambre Solaire will roll out its sensitive range, aimed at fair, sensitive and intolerant skin, which offers a new reinforced filter system that combines high and very high SPFs with photostable UVA protection. L’Oréal scientists have identified a new danger in “long” UVA, which is said to cause common problems such as skin discomfort, intolerances, loss of skin firmness and elasticity, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation spots. The new formulation claims to provide a uniform shield against long UVA and UVB rays.

French sensitive skin expert Eau Thermale Avene has designed a range of sun care products based on its SunSitive protection system, which are suitable for those suffering from even the most sensitive skin complaints, including eczema, psoriasis, roascea, acne or irritated skin. The SPF20-50 sun protection range features Avene thermal spring water, which is said to be clinically proven to have effective, soothing and anti-irritating properties.

Wet Skin Formulations

Two sun care brands are launching products this summer which can be applied to wet skin without compromising the effectiveness of the formulation. Piz Buin Wet Skin is a transparent sun spray in SPF15 and SPF30 that claims to stay on wet skin without sliding off due to a new technology that combines polyester, resin, silicone, sunscreen and oil.

The “golden ratio” between UV filters, oil and alcohol, provides a barrier between the formula and the water droplets. The UVA/UVB filters are said to be very photostable, providing protection after the user has been in the water.

Dr. Susan Mayou, a consultant and dermatologist, tells Happi: “The real danger point is when you get out of the water and the skin is unprotected. This is when the sun burns and does damage.”

Leading European premium sun care brand Lancaster is also harnessing new technology in its Wet Skin Application textures. The formulations “rid water” from the skin’s surface and claim not to leave white streaks after spreading. Lancaster Wet Skin textures are available in the Sun for Kids range as a cream and invisible mist, and the Sun Sports range has invisible mists and a dry touch gel.

Melanin Boosters

Sun care brands must balance the need for protection with consumers’ desire to get a tan. Nivea Sun Protect & Bronze aims to provide both in a formulation that is said to support the skin’s own natural tanning ability by using a plant extract called glycyrrhetinic acid (GA).

Launching this March in Selfridges, London, was Lancaster’s Tan Preparer range which is designed to be used for up to two weeks before sun exposure to boost skin’s melanin. Tan Preparer Sun Preparing Hydrating Water contains isoquercetin, an antioxidant found naturally in apples and ginkgo biloba, which is said to increase the skin’s own melanin production and accelerate tanning, according to the company.

The latest Lancaster launch ties in with Mintel’s research showing the boundary between sun care and skin care in Europe is blurring due to the increased usage of antioxidants in sun protection products.
In the year to June 2012, 29% of sun care launches in Europe contained antioxidants compared to 23% globally. Increasing premiumization will be a key trend for European sun care brands as the 2013 summer season gets underway.

Imogen Matthews
Headington, Oxford UK
Tel: +44 1865 764918

Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.
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