UV Protection: A Must-Have Accessory

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | September 4, 2013

Skin care products and cosmetics that provide UV protection are a great daily regimen that should include sunscreen.

Along with a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses, SPF-infused skin care and cosmetics are must-have accessories in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, according to leading sun protection experts.

Dermatologists and sun care experts sound the call for UVA and UVB protection via sunscreen, and while application of high SPF for a day at the beach or pool is routine, in more utilitarian settings—like a typical day in the office or running errands around town—consumers are less likely to comply.

“Consumers are certainly more aware than ever of the importance of sunscreen in helping to prevent skin cancer. However, this knowledge doesn’t necessarily incite behavioral changes,” said Gaby Angarita, director of marketing for La Roche-Posay. 

Research backs up the disconnect. Angarita cited a study by Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Steven Wang in which 86% respondents reported that they were aware that sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer when used in conjunction with other protection measures, however, the majority did not use sunscreen on a regular basis. Their main reasons for not using sunscreen included:
  • Not thinking about doing it (40%);
  • Believing that they do not stay out long enough in the sun to burn (44%); and
  • Having an aversion to sunscreen texture (51%).
But SPF-infused skin care and cosmetics products can help fill the void and protect consumers from aging skin and skin cancer, note industry experts.

“Any kind of cosmetic that offers SPF is a boon. It is good to supplement your regular regimen,” Dr. Latanya Benjamin of Stanford University, told Happi.

From BB crèmes to foundations to mineral powders, skin care and cosmetics marketers have a seemingly full roster of products that provide some level of protection from the sun’s rays. And it appears consumers are buying in. According to data from The NPD Group, Port Washington, NY, sales of makeup and skin care products with SPF reached $1.1 billion in US prestige department stores for the year ended May 31, 2013, an impressive 24% increase from three years ago.

“Whether it is health concerns, or a more superficial fear of looking older, the intensified focus on sun protection from the beauty and health care industries is having a real impact on consumers, and the market,” noted Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst, The NPD Group, in an July press release of about the findings.

NPD BeautyTrends indicates that most of the current growth in products with SPF continues to come from skin care, where dollar sales have consistently increased by double-digits over the past three years.

In makeup and skin care, products with SPF 15 remain the largest segment in sun protection, accounting for more than half of dollar sales. Growth of makeup options in the SPF 15 segment were driven by a 6% price premium compared to last year, but it was options which offered slightly higher levels of sun protection, think SPF 20 and 25, that saw double-digit increases based heavily on an increase in units sold, noted NPD.

In skin care specifically, the majority of the growth occurred where the SPF was greater than 20. In particular, SPF 30, the second largest SPF segment in skin care at 13% of sales, grew significantly in the past 12 months ending May 2013, noted NPD. 

As anti-aging remains the major undercurrent in the beauty category, sun protection is now seen by consumers vital weapon in the war against premature aging.

Said Grant, “Sun protection is a great example of the power behind a product that not only addresses a need, but also has found ways to expand its reach and tap into the emotional component.”

Choices Abound
Luckily for consumers, there are many SPF-packed skin care and cosmetics in the marketplace today, fueled by the rising popularity of the BB crème, the multitasking cosmetic/skin care product that has made its way from East to West.

According to new research from Mintel, 2013 has seen a nearly 50% increase in BB cream/crème product launches over 2012. And data suggests there’s room for growth.

Mintel says BB cream currently has the lowest reported use among facial makeup products (29% of women report wearing BB cream, compared to 68% who wear foundation, 64% for powder, 61% for concealer and 39% for primer). But usage is on the upswing, rising 5% this year over last.

Savvy brand managers are answering the rising demand for these multitasking products. Not to be left out of the fray, the revamped roster at Jane Cosmetics—which is making a comeback in cosmetics category with more than 120 new SKUS—includes Jane Be Beautiful Multi-Benefit BB Cream with SPF30. The lightweight, buildable cream is designed to provide radiant, fresh-faced complexion, while the SPF 30 guards against the sun. It can be worn alone or under makeup for long-lasting, sheer color and smoother, softer-looking skin, according to the brand.

And now with new CC and DD creams rolling out, “the market is sure to continue its upward trajectory,” noted Mintel beauty and personal care analyst Shannon Romanowski.

Choice is essential, according to dermatologists who have long recognized that compliance rises when consumers find a product that clicks.

“When speaking to patients, I advise that they pick a sunscreen, tinted moisturizer or BB cream, foundation or mineral makeup that they will faithfully use—in terms of suggested re-application (every two hours) and necessary quantity to be applied,” said Rebecca Tung, director, division of dermatology at Loyola University in Chicago.

“It is important to consumers to realize that it’s not one size fits all,” said dermatologist Mona Gohara. “SPF is something you need 365 days a years—so however it fits into your routine: makeup or moisturizer, powder or primer…there are a lot of cosmetically-elegant options.”

That’s good news for US consumers who seem to place a premium on appearance over protection. While a bit of white haze on the skin is fine while sitting poolside, in “daily life, like walking on the street, it’s not what people prefer,” said Esther Dong, who is vice president of sales and marketing at AmorePacific’s US division.

Leading companies like AmorePacific continue to amp up the aesthetic value of their SPF skin care and cosmetics products.
Take for example, its newest SPF-delivering SKU, the patent-pending Color Contol (CC) Cushion Compact SPF 50. It provides complete and lasting coverage and advanced skin-soothing and improving properties like deeper hydration, stronger antioxidant protection and potent anti-inflammatory benefits. Those attributes, combined with high SPF and a compact format featuring especially designed foundation sponge have made it a favorite; it is reported to be the brand’s top seller in the US.

“With sunscreen, who carries around a mirror? With this compact, you can apply it anywhere,” noted Dong.

Japanese cosmetics firm Shiseido also touts an SPF enhanced foundation in compact form. Sun Protection Compact Foundation SPF 36 offers a matte powder finish in seven shades.

Stick products can also aid in re-application compliance. A new addition in Murad’s Environmental Shield line is Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 | PA+++ comes in a portable stick form. It is formulated with tangerine butter and essential antioxidants to defend and protect skin against free radical damage and dehydration. According to Jeff Murad, vice president of product development, Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 is also the first product to use broccoli extract, which has been shown to stimulate the skin’s natural defense against UV damage in the long term.

But whether it’s SPF 30, 50 or 15 in a stick, compact, powder or lotion, when it comes to achieving the level of SPF protection touted on the label, the onus is on consumers—and unfortunately, they  “can falsely feel that the have adequate protection,” said Dr. Benjamin.

For example, while many mineral makeup products offer broad spectrum sun protection, “they do not always state the caveat—you need to apply enough of the product for effective protection,” added Dr. Tung. “In summer when the temperatures rise, many women try to go ‘lighter’ on their use of products by applying only a light dusting of these mineral powders for a more ‘natural’ look. This habit can be counterproductive in that, more sun damage can occur.”

It’s all about full protection for all skin tones, according to dermatologists like Jeanine Downie, who works with Ambi Skincare  (now part of Valeant Pharmaceuticals). In fact, Dr. Downie warns that women of color, too, need to use SPF daily. Her prescription calls for SPF 30—rain or shine. 

Formulation Expertise
Leading sun protection brands Happi spoke with pointed to their commitment to create SPF products that fire on all cylinders.
“We pride ourselves on working alongside dermatologists to develop a unique range of UV protection/SPF products that meet a strict set of standards in terms of efficacy, tolerance and elegant textures in order to increase compliance,” said Angarita of La Roche-Posay.  “Our formulations exclude known irritants to minimize side effects while still ensuring efficacious results. All our products undergo stringent clinical testing to guarantee efficacy and safety, even for those with sensitive skin.”

La Roche-Posay is also keen on providing UVA and UVB protection through advanced, patented technologies, including 100% mineral-based UV protection formulas, as well as those developed with Mexoryl SX, a unique ingredient that acts as a short wave UVA filter. Most recently, the brand developed Cell-Ox Shield XL, billed as a powerful, synergistic combination of filters that provides advanced UVA/UVB and antioxidant protection using 21% fewer ingredients.

Julep was one of the first out of the gates with a DD product. Its DD Creme offers buildable coverage with an ultra-smoothing finish, while providing SPF 25 for daily defense from the sun while the complementing DD Concealer disguises and diminishes the appearance of dark circles, discoloration, redness, blemishes, and other skin flaws with age-defying antioxidants to protect delicate and damage-prone areas of the face. 

Specific Issues
Another factor bench chemists must consider are skin maladies, and formulators are always looking for ingredients that mesh well with specific concerns.

According to Diana Howard, Ph.D, VP-R&D and global education, Dermalogica is  “committed to finding the best technologies and ingredients in order to provide consumers with products that deliver results. The brand utilizes advanced technologies that provide skin with multiple benefits, including free radical defense and advanced protection against UV-induced damage without the need for higher concentrations of potentially-irritating sunscreen ingredients found in products with high SPF.” 

Dermalogica’s range includes Solar Defense Booster SPF50, which may be added to a moisturizer or liquid makeup to create a multitasking skin care product, as well as SKUs designed for more specific skin issues. The company’s Oil Free Matte SPF30, part of it its MediBac Clearing system, is formulated to control the four main factors which contribute to adult acne. Meanwhile, its Ultra Sensitive Tint SPF30 and Super Sensitive Shield SPF30 in the UltraCalming system contain UltraCalming Complex to help reduce sensitivity, redness, irritation and inflammation.

Dermatologists suggest consumers should scrutinize labels to ensure they are getting adequate protection and other benefits they desire.

“When selecting among the alphabet of cosmeceutical products on the market—AA, BB, CC or now even DD—people should read the labels a bit further to make sure broad spectrum sunscreens are listed among the ingredients,” Dr. Tung told Happi. “While these products aim to address specific concerns—mainly reversing the signs of aging and evening out pigmentation—halting further ultraviolet damage with effective sunscreens is an essential part of the mission. Antioxidants actually help to boost the effectiveness of sunscreens. Additionally, other ingredients can help to fade unwanted excess pigmentation, but these positive effects can all too quickly be reversed with unprotected sun exposure.”

Even the type of sunscreen agent used in a formulation has become a hot button issue for consumers, especially those looking for organic products. Marie Veronique Organics (MVO), for example, is one of just a few SPF makeup products listed in EWG 2013’s Sunscreen Guide.

“We use only non-nano zinc oxide in a natural base of oils,” said Marie Veronique Nadeau, founder and formulator. “Zinc oxide protects across the whole UV spectrum, and since dermatologists recommend daily protection against UVA damage to prevent aging, zinc oxide’s reach and stability make it a good choice.”

MVO’s SPF options include MVO Everyday Coverage and  Pacific Everyday Sheer Coverage. The first is a moisturizing facial SKU sold in three tints that offer SPF 30 while the latter delivers SPF 20 and a dose of antioxidants to combat aging. The brand also touts Kid Safe Sunscreen with SPF 35 and has a lip balm and body oil with SPF in the pipeline, Nadeau told Happi.

Origins added to the CC scene with new Smarty Plants CC SPF 20 Skin complexion corrector, which rolled out last month.  In an in vitro study, Smarty Plants CC SPF 20 Skin complexion corrector blocked up to 100% of environmental damage caused by free radicals, according to the Estée Lauder-owned brand. 

Chemists at StriVectin have been busy too. Bolstered by the success of its StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Night Treatment, the brand has rolled out StriVectin-AR Advanced Day Treatment with SPF 30 (and a related eye treatment). The hero ingredient, proprietary NIA-114—which helps stimulate DNA repair for healthier skin, visibly improving texture, tone and discolorations and strengthen the skin barrier to help protect against Retinol’s harsh side effects—is complemented with SPF 30 to protect from UVA/UVB rays. In clinical trials, StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Day Treatment performed better than prescription strength Retinol across the key signs of aging without irritation, the firm said.

On the Horizon
When it comes to SPF protection from skin care and cosmetics, the good news is consumers have  “adequate choices, and they don’t need to spend a lot,” noted Dr. Benjamin.

But the sun never sets on new product development. As today’s suppliers zero in on ingredients and chemists sharpen their formulating expertise, dermatologists are looking ahead to what the future holds.

“We are all in search of the ideal sun protection product—long lasting but cosmetically elegant that does not feel heavy on the skin,” said Dr. Tung. “It is an exciting time—certainly future research will yield new ingredients that offer even broader protection and are stable over the course of the day.” 
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