The Hot Spot for Sun Care

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | November 4, 2013

Nearly 500 attend the Sunscreen Symposium sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.

Summer 2013 was a difficult season for the sun care industry as wild weather put a damper on sunscreen use. But you’d never know that judging by attendance at the Sunscreen Symposium, which was held Sept. 19-21 in Orlando, FL. The event, sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, attracted nearly 500 attendees from around the world. They heard presentations from some of the leading authorities on UV protection who discussed a broad array of topics including emulsification optimization, improving water-resistance, oxygen quenchers, measurements and regulatory issues.

In addition, the symposium featured an exhibition of 50 industry suppliers that offered a broad array of actives and functional ingredients and testing services and equipment.

Protect Your Reputation
Sunscreen marketers and their suppliers do a good job protecting the skin against UV rays; now they have to protect themselves from unwarranted criticism. The rise of social media has moved sun care issues out of the laboratories and FDA halls and into the mainstream, as bloggers and non-government organizations flood the world wide web with opinions that can shake a brand’s reputation. Keynote speaker Perry Romanowski, president, Brains Publishing, explained how companies might boost their visibility by improving their search engine rankings by climbing to the top of Google and Yahoo search pages.

“Forty-three percent of people click on the first Google result,” said Romanowski. “If you’re not on the first page of Google, you won’t get seen.”

To be seen and clicked on, it is crucial to pepper your site with keywords; in this case, words such as UV protection, sun care, sunscreen and the like. Other factors that help search engine rankings include: the site’s age (the older the better), website reputation, internal links and external links. Secondly, said Romanowski, companies should build a presence on social networks such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

But high visibility on the web means nothing if a company’s online reputation gets damaged. Romanowski provided a seven-point strategy to help companies control their online reputation:
  • Develop your message. Tell a story and use images to connect with people. Be consistent across online properties.
  • Create supporting websites. Choose a URL with your brand and keyword, update content frequently, allow users to comment and respond to all comments.
  • Create social media accounts. Fill with content to attract fans; and create consistent branding.
  • Optimize website links. More links means a higher ranking; create website pages for each keyword and create other websites (such as YouTube) to link to your page.
  • Participate in social media. Send messages each day (5-10), monitor competition and respond to all comments.
  • Produce valuable content. More content means a higher ranking. Multiple channels; i.e., video, audio, text are effective.
  • Monitor your reputation.
“You can’t ignore your reputation. Anyone can write anything about anything on the internet,” Romanowski warned. “The industry does not do a good job of protecting its reputation.”

The role of social media and how to connect with consumers was the topic of Croda’s Helene Hine. She noted that while it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners and terrestrial TV 13 years to reach 50 million viewers, it took Facebook less than 9 months to add 100 million viewers! Hines reviewed the appeal of other social sites such as Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, and showed how her company is using social media to promote Solaveil, a mineral UV blocker.

Why the soaring interest in social media? Hines pointed out that 70% of consumers trust online consumer opinions, but just 14% trust advertisements. As a result, companies are using social media to launch products, promote philanthropy and engage consumers on a variety of subjects. In fact, online communities are now a source of innovation for forward-thinking companies. Called “Netnography,” it introduces a subject to a defined online community and relies on quantitative analysis, interpretation and aggregation of insights to find a solution.

Consumer Appeal
With incidences of melanoma and other skin cancers soaring, consumers are more aware of the benefits of sunscreen. However, they are demanding high protection with good skin feel and that can cause a conundrum for formulators, noted Achim Friedrich of Evonik.  He detailed the benefits of using polyglyceryl esters in sun care formulations as they are very mild, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. They have excellent stability, improve skin feel, are easy to process and provide flexibility to formulators as well in that they are compatible with high amounts of water-soluble UV filters and difficult-to-incorporate ingredients such as insect repellents, natural preservatives, urea and electrolytes and have a broad pH range 4.0-8.5. In addition, polyglyceryl esters are said to be especially suitable for formulating low-viscous systems like lotions and sprays. They provide moisturization properties and allow the development of ethoxylate-free products.

These biodegradable ingredients are based on renewable raw materials, so while they been available for a long time, polygly-ceryl esters have potential for novel, innovative solutions combining sustainability and performance, according to Friedrich.
Avobenzone has been on the market for 30 years, but Hallstar’s Craig Bonda insisted “we still don’t know all about it, but we are getting closer.”

Bonda has been teaching the industry about the instability of this and other ingredients for decades, but in this presentation, he focused on diketo tautomers and diketo triplets and the role they play in the production of singlet oxygen, which is toxic to cells. To prevent or reduce bio-molecule reactions and singlet oxygen generation by avobenzone’s diketo triplets, Bonda advised adding a triplet quencher to the formulation. Further, ethylhexyl methoxycrylene, which quenches avobenzone’s singlet excited state, also quenches avobenzone’s diketo triplets with a rate constant similar to O2, according to Bonda.

In order to optimize water-resistance in a sunscreen, it is crucial to understand film formation, according to Chuck Jones of Dow Chemical.

“When a film dries, it doesn’t do so uniformly,” he told the audience. “It dries around the edges first and then toward the middle.”
Furthermore, water resistance agents impact the film because they change the viscosity and structure of the oil phase. And controlling the rheology of the oil phase allows for improvement in water resistance results, according to Jones.

Donald Prettypaul of Ashland explained a method to study coupled ultrafast electron and proton transfer in sunscreen materials, specifically bemotrizinol, using pump-probe spectroscopy. According to Prettypaul, the material is a very stable UVA and UVB absorber that is particularly suited to light oil/water formulations including aerosols and sprays. US approval is pending, but it is used as a sunscreen active at up to 10% levels in most countries and at 3% in Japan. It also acts as an avobenzone stabilizer.

Taking a different tack in photoprotection, Yun Shao of Kobo Products reviewed formulation requirements when using zinc oxide, a physical sunscreen that can provide broad-spectrum UV protection with a modest SPF due to its relatively weak UVB attenuation. He explained that the UV attenuation pattern of ZnO depends on its aggregate size and, to a lesser extent, its primary particle size. However, when used with UVB organic sunscreens, a large size and a high level of ZnO is needed for broad-spectrum, SPF 30+ formulations. In contrast, when combined with TiO2, there is more latitude in ZnO selection, according to Shao.

Daily Wear, Daily!
As much as 60% of sun exposure is due to incidental exposure, according to Christine Saeker of DSM Nutritional Products. Moreover, she insisted that the FDA-recommended SPF15 is not enough to protect skin from sub-erythemal exposure. However, a formulation that incorporates 5% niacinamide significantly protected skin against sub-erythemal induced immunosuppression, which is a major risk factor of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.

Unfortunately, Saeker noted that regardless of the formula, consumers do not apply enough sunscreen for proper protection. She blamed this failure, in part, on poor sensory attributes of today’s sunscreen formulas and called for the creation of formulas with a dry-touch feel, which requires the incorporation of more wax in the product.

Joe Stanfield, Suncare Research Laboratories, reviewed the history of UV assessment including solar simulators, artificial skin models and more, recently, molded PMMA substrate. But no matter what the method or surface, how the material is applied plays a critical role in assessment.

“Application is an art,” Stanfield insisted. “People don’t normally apply it in the same way.”

A new hybrid method to measure SPF, Diffuse Reflectance Spectroscopy, has high correlation with in vivo methods and can be used for water-resistance tests with better understanding on effects of formulation and experimental conditions, according to Stanfield.

More work is necessary, insisted Stanfield.

“We are thinking about topography, but we need to think about film thickness,” he said.

Stanfield explained that image analysis may prove useful, as skin fluorescence excitation is attenuated by sunscreen. The advantage of this technique is that it is a non-invasive measurement of film thickness distribution on skin and substrates and is useful for in silico computations and substrate design.

Robert Sayer, Croda Europe, provided new insight into solar radiation. He noted that radiation reaching the earth’s surface is composed of infrared (53%), visible (42%) and ultra violet (2%). Therefore, effective sun care formulas contain a variety of filters to ensure that skin is adequately protected. However, Sayer urged attendees to focus on UV radiation in the often-neglected 720-800nm range.

Formulating effective, elegant sunscreen formulas was the topic of a presentation by Julian Hewitt, JPH SunCare Technologies. Maximizing efficacy, according to the speaker, is a four-step process:
  • Choose the right UV filters;
  • Ensure homogeneous distribution in the formulation;
  • Ensure homogeneous distribution on the skin; and
  • Maintain efficacy after application.
“Efficacy and elegance are dependent on one another,” explained Hewitt. “Efficacy is enhanced by choosing filters that complement each other.”

According to Hewitt, approval of TEA filters and allowing avobenzone to be combined with all other UV filters, will enable US formulators to create better products and facilitate the development of global sun care formulations.

Nava Dayan, president, Dr. Nava Dayan LLC, provided insight into how proteomics can aid the development of effective sun care products. She asked the provocative question, “Do sunscreens prevent skin cancer?”

She noted that despite more consumers using sunscreen on a regular basis, the incidence of skin cancer continues to climb.
“Why aren’t we studying skin biology to see if sunscreens do work?” she asked. “Why are we not assessing sunscreen efficacy based on their ability to mitigate cell proliferation at the biochemical level? Are we looking where we should or are we looking where it is convenient?”

Of course, creating or obtaining new, effective UV filters requires an OK from the Food and Drug Administration that, after 35 years, still has not issued a Final Monograph for sunscreens, noted Curtis Cole of Johnson & Johnson. Although FDA has issued several “final rules” on topics such as labeling and efficacy testing, much work remains to be done. These issues include:
  • Ingredients and combinations finalization (TEAs);
  • SPF 50 cap;
  • Spray form dosage; and
  • Changes that the industry and regulators aren’t even aware of yet!
“The Monograph will encompass my entire career,” observed Cole. “There has to be a way to bring innovation to the regulatory process.”

He called for dialogue between regulators and industry to expedite rulemaking; recognition of differences in product usage (cosmetic v. recreational); common sense approaches to promote realistic product use labeling; and regulatory pathway for new product forms and filters.

Cole didn’t end his presentation on a gloomy note. He pointed out that clinical data shows the efficacy of sunscreens to prevent skin cancers, including malignant melanomas.

John Staton, Dermatest, concluded the Sunscreen Symposium podium presentations with a review of sunscreen test methodology and the quest for global harmonization of test methods. Working with the International Standards Organization (ISO) for seven years, Staton and others have developed three tests: in vivo SPF (November, 2010); in vivo UVAPF (June, 2012) and in vitro UVAPF (June, 2012). Two other methods are in development: in vitro SPF and water resistance. Staton noted that the in vivo SPF method (ISO 24444) has been accepted in nearly 90 countries. Furthermore, Staton insisted that 95% of test results correlate with ISO methods. The sticking point, he explained, remains in product labeling.

For more on the Symposium, be sure to read The Sunscreen Filter on p. 43 in this issue.