As reported by Happi last July, Hawaii’s Governor David Ige signed off on a new law that prohibits the sale and distribution of OTC sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, making his state the first to enact specific sunscreen legislation designed to protect marine ecosystems. The law (which does allow for the sale of physician-prescribed sunscreens that contain those two ingredients) will go into effect in 2021.
More recently, in February, the Key West City Council passed similar legislation that will also come into effect at the same time, impacting the sale of sun care products in this popular Florida vacation destination.
These two materials have been go-to ingredients for sun care developers. Octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate) is one of the most widely used UVB-absorbing organic ingredients and oxybenzone is one of the few legally approved ingredients that provides broad spectrum protection against UV radiation.
The Hawaiian and Key West rules are seen as big wins for environmental stakeholders and health-based organizations that have advocated for products that are less impactful to the earth and consumers alike.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), for example, has been calling for a ban on oxybenzone for years (and is demanding companies drop the ingredient entirely by 2020).
“We support the fact that certain stares are bringing attention to the ingredients of concern in sunscreen; in those states, like Hawaii, it is because of reef effects. We have been calling attention because of public health,” said Nneka Leiba, who is EWG’s director of healthy living science and manages its annual update to its “Guide to Sunscreens.”
The mandates were applauded by many smaller, specialty brands, too—especially those that have been “reef-safe” for years.
“We have been working really hard to drive awareness and change around this issue, so we are excited to see that there is positive movement to save our corals,” Brian Guadgano, CEO and founder of Raw Elements, told Happi. “In recent years, there has been a major decline in coral reefs due to coral bleaching.”
He continued, “Chemical sunscreens, sewage and global warming are major contributing factors. Making the change to using a reef safe sunscreen with only non-nano zinc oxide is a simple choice one can make which has immediate impact on the health of our reefs around the world. That wave of change is pretty exciting,” he said.
Raw Elements (our Indie Inc. profile this month, see p. 98) has been dedicated to raising awareness about the coral reef issue through major campaigns with Aqua-Aston Hospitality, Hawaiian Airlines and the Shore Hotel by sponsoring grassroots efforts of nonprofits and environmental groups to joining the Safe Sunscreen Coalition. Guadgano said his company is also working on initiatives centered around a newly-designated “World Reef Awareness Day” (June 1), which has been approved through the National Day Calendar Association.
In addition, this new legislation should also have another benefit for indie brands: revenue growth. Several executives told Happi about increased distribution opportunities and interest in their brands from retailers in places like Hawaii.
Not everyone is onboard with these new legislative moves; they argue that protecting corals reef shouldn’t trump protecting skin, especially when formulators’ toolkits just aren’t as robust as they should be.
Ahead of the law’s passage in Hawaii, the Public Access to SunScreens (PASS) Coalition expressed its concerns in letter sent to Gov. Ige that cited issues like rising melanoma rates and the lack of new ingredients approved by Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the national association that represents manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) products like sunscreens, said the Hawaiian law has “severely comprised” the safety and welfare of millions of Hawaiian residents and tourists as it bans at least 70% of the sunscreens on the market today.
CHPA, in its public statement following the law’s passage, also pointed to “weak science,” stating that the ban avoids the real causes of coral decline, such as global warming, agricultural runoff, sewage and overfishing.
The is two-fold; there is already a lack of alternative filters available to the US chemists, and outlawing the sale of products with oxybenzone and octinoxate will impact access to sun care products even though dermatologists and health advocates have labeled skin cancer as a public health epidemic. In fact, the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed annually has increased by 53% in the past decade (2008-2018), according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Since 2002, eight new sunscreen ingredients have been submitted for review under the FDA’s Time and Extent Application (TEA) process, but the agency has not made a final decision on any one (and some ingredients have actually been in limbo for 14 years).
Even Leiba of EWG agreed that “there aren’t a lot of other options” for companies.
“What needs to happen is for FDA to approve more sunscreen ingredients,” she said.
Surprisingly, that puts her on the same page as other FDA critics, including Dr. Nadim Shaath, head of Alpha Research & Development Ltd. and a Happi columnist who has long-argued, pushed and prodded FDA to move forward and (finally) give US chemists more options.
Shaath was taken aback by the two laws—and by a lack of involvement by the key Federal agency that oversees the sunscreen category.
“I am astounded to witness what has just occurred in Key West, Florida—and soon in California—here the resolution not only bans octinoxate and oxybenzone, and I am no fan of this ingredient, but it also usurps the authority of the FDA by allowing the use of those two ingredients only with a doctor’s written prescription,” he said. “This, I thought was the purview of the FDA. I did not see a protest from the FDA or a representative from that organization lobby against that bill. This, ultimately, is a major setback for consumer protection from skin cancer, as it will clearly discourage the liberal use of sunscreen lotions and sprays as a first and crucial defense from those harmful rays.”
According to Leiba, EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens works to educate consumers and rates sunscreens by key criterion. Typically issued in each May, the guide prioritizes the effectiveness of the product based on protecting against UVA and UVB rays and stability.
“Most important, it is about efficacy and broad spectrum protection,” Leiba said, noting that there is a false perception about EWG’s sunscreen guide.
“There are misconceptions of EWG,” she told Happi. “Usually when companies meet us face-to-face to talk about concerns, we realize we are more in tune (with one another).”
And if the numbers are proof, there must be something to that.
EWG’s 2018 guide had more than 240 recreational sunscreens that met its criteria—more than double that of 2007.
What’s more, the guide has increasingly become more populated with so-called “recognizable” brands.
“There have always been smaller brands that have been formulated with minerals. In more recent years, larger players have some mineral-based options,” Leiba said, noting that Aveeno, Neutrogena and Clinique have products listed in the 2018 guide (the 2019 guide wasn’t available at press time).
“It is good that small, medium and large companies are producing products that meet EWG criteria. Consumers can find more products. It gives everyone an option,” said Leiba.
There are more products available to more consumers from a variety of brands at a variety of price points as formulators and their supplier partners have been actively improving the aesthetics of mineral-based sunscreens.
Take Cōtz, for example. The brand (which is an acronym for contains only titanium and zinc) has recently expanded its collection of mineral sunscreens and tweaked a customer favorite. New options include Cōtz Face Moisture SPF 35, a lightweight, hydrating facial mineral sunscreen that incorporates zinc oxide and ceramides to help reinforce the skin’s natural lipid barrier. It is formulated with 16% zinc oxide and is also free from gluten, oils, preservatives, parabens, phthalates and fragrance.
“It’s lightly tinted, with a velvety skin feel that’s great either under makeup or worn alone. And it has 80 minutes’ water resistance, so it’s great for outdoor activity,” added Kathleen Dwyer, head of marketing and sales.
Also new is Cōtz Kids Botanicals SPF 45, an all-mineral sunscreen in what the company labels as an “unique, plant-based formula that is naturally soft and gentle, as well as highly protective.”
These new options join hero products, including the company’s long-time best-seller Cōtz Face Tinted SPF 40, which has been renamed this year to be more “descriptive,” according to Dwyer. Cōtz Face Prime & Protect Tinted SPF 40 is a sheer all-mineral sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection in a silky, translucent primer, which Dwyer said makes it easy to incorporate sun protection into a daily skin care routine.
“Cōtz has used only the mineral sunscreens titanium dioxide and zinc oxide since its introduction in 2002,” Dwyer told Happi. “Cōtz products contain no oxybenzone, octinoxate or other chemical sunscreens, so the regulatory changes will not affect our formulations. We are definitely working with our distribution channels to be sure that we have sufficient product available as consumers need it … not only in Hawaii and Key West, but across the country.”
Goddess Garden, based in Boulder, CO, has “renovated” its mineral sunscreen portfolio to now offer SPF 50 protection. And like the brand’s previous iterations, these are also reef-safe—status the brand has had since “the get-go,” founder Nova Covington told Happi (You can hear more from Covington this month in a special podcast on Happi.com.) The brand has also repackaged the new formulas, which include lotions and sticks in sports, kids and baby variants, to highlight the increase to SPF 50 and key user benefits—think satin-smooth, dry touch and easier application.
Earth Mama Organics, Clackamas, OR, rolled out a range of mineral sunscreen lotions for women, kids and babies. Certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 Organic Standard, the formulations contain non-nano zinc and organic ingredients that the company says are “purposely sourced with great consideration to either boost the sunscreen’s SPF value, its ability to moisturize or its gentle, safe effect on uber-sensitive skin.” Those ingredients include organic red raspberry seed oil, which Earth Mama says has the highest-naturally occurring SPF value in the plant world, and organic colloidal oatmeal to calm rashy skin. The range includes baby mineral SPF 40 lotion and face stick; kid’s lotions in SPF 40 and SPF 30; and SPF 40 and 25 lotions with prices that range from $9.99 to $14.99.
An Educated Consumer
Australian Gold offers consumers its Botanicals line, which includes 100% mineral based lotions and natural continuous sprays. Available since 2017, the company is buoyed by the prospects, as more consumers look for mineral-based products across personal care and legislation in places like Hawaii where distribution is rising.
“I’m excited about this line because it answers the mineral, ‘non-chemical’ solution within the category. And, it has a nice fragrance—a pleasant everyday sun care scent. It doesn’t smell like a sunscreen, which is great for everyday usage which is where we want the category to go,” said Melissa Backer, director of marketing at Australian Gold.
Savvy sun care companies constantly track shifting consumer behaviors, and Backer pointed to changes among Millennials.
“Consumers are becoming more and more educated on skin care and sun care and the 20-somethings/Millennials are much more into preventative measures,” said Backer. “[It] is much more of the daily part of their routine. They are also more aware about ingredients, and chemicals on their skin.”
According to Backer, Australian Gold’s R&D team targeted application and after-feel when developing the Botanical Sunscreen SPF 50 Tinted Face Mineral Lotion. It delivers “powderly-clean feel” and subtle tint with UVA/UVB protection, and includes ingredients such as red algae, vitamin A and amino acids, kakadu plum and vitamin E.
Australian Gold, which has also reformulated its Face Guard stick, has more products in the pipeline and is putting greater emphasis on the retail side of its business. This year, the company is looking to further “evolve” as the category evolves—from a historically low SPF brand purchased for the beach or vacation to something that is more much lifestyle driven.
“We have great brand-loyal consumers. We have a lot of positivity from them, and we want to bring them along as we grow,” said Backer.
Jackson, WY-based Trilipiderm recently added a new formula: Broad Spectrum SPF 30 with Vitamin D, which is marked with a National Drug Code, and is one of the only OTC SPF moisturizers with the designation.
“Our mission has always been to create a quality product that is truly effective and can be easily accessed by the everyday consumer,” noted Frank Fanning, founder and CEO of the Trilipid Research Institute. “Being labeled with an NDC number affirms that we have always believed our SPF is a safe, powerful and effective way to help achieve overall skin wellness. Being an OTC formula means that we have achieved what we set out to do.”
The biggest players in the sun protection business continue to explore new avenues for growth, by filling in the white space in their portfolios and delivering products that answer the demand for simplified formulations, great scents and added attributes beyond protection.
Last summer, Edgewell Personal Care, launched Banana Boat Simply Protect Sunscreen, which are formulated with 25% fewer ingredients, are made without oxybenzone or parabens, and contain no added oils or fragrances. The line will be enhanced next month with the introduction of Banana Boat Simply Protect Sensitive and Sensitive Faces Sunscreen Lotions, both of which offer SPF 50 protection.
Edgewell also upgraded the Banana Boat Sport line with new Ultra Sport, lotion and spray formats that offer high-performance but lightweight and breathable formulas. The SKUs range from SPF 15 to SPF 100. Also new is Hawaiian Tropic Antioxidant Plus Refresh Sunscreen Mist, described as oil-free, ultra- weightless and moisturizing, and according to the brand, perfect for one’s everyday beauty routine. The scent is infused with mango, guava, papaya and passionfruit.
This month, Coppertone launches Pure & Simple, a product line designed for the whole family that is formulated with 100% zinc oxide and 100% natural botanicals (a blend of tea leaf, sea kelp and lotus extracts). The range includes Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 and Lotion for Face SPF 50; Pure & Simple Kids Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60; and Pure & Simple Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 and Stick SPF 50. The baby SKUs have a higher percentage of active zinc oxide than leading competitive baby brands, according to Coppertone.
Last month, the Bayer-owned brand unveiled new Coppertone Glow, a sunscreen lotion that delivers broad spectrum protection with shimmer. Blended with “illuminated minerals,” the silky and lightweight formula leaves skin with a beautiful glow and dries quickly while hydrating with SPF 15, 30 and 50 levels of protection. The line is free of parabens, PABA, phthalates and oxybenzone. Also new is Coppertone Sport Clear, billed as a unique, first-of-its-kind clear formula that provides broad spectrum sun protection and goes on clear, feeling cool on contact. Sport Clear rubs in quickly with no white residue. It comes in SPF 30 and SPF 50 options.
These rollouts come at a time when its parent company is looking to off-load the sunscreen line. Bayer announced in late November that it planned to divest the Coppertone brand (and undertake additional measures) to bolster its share price.
In the mass market, Bayer’s sun protection business trails that of Neutrogena (J&J) and Edgewell, according to data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm (see chart below). Suntan lotion and oil sales rose 1.5% to $1.2 billion in the 52 weeks ended Dec. 30. 2018, with unit sales up 2.1%.
However, sales of sunscreen/insect repellants—though a much smaller category—dropped dramatically, falling 14.9% to just $2.85 million. The clear leader in this market is SolSkyn, which owns the BullFrog brand.
This year, SolSkyn reformulated BullFrog Mosquito Coast with a clear eye on the changes occurring in the main marketplace as it now provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB coverage that is oxybenzone- and octinoxate-free.
SolSkyn’s other brands have been keeping pace with the changes in the category, too. For example, last year saw the introduction of No Ad mineral formulations that are free from oxybenzone and octinoxate. This season, Ocean Potion will debut a lightweight version of its after-sun lotion with aloe, and the brand will participate in beach events across the Florida market that will drive awareness, engagement and trial of the brand. In addition, officials told Happi that Ocean Potion continues to garner greater distribution with national retailers.
“The goal of SolSkyn is to continuously provide quality sunscreen products that meet consumer needs,” said John Van Houten, VP of KIK and SolSkyn Personal Care LLC. “This means we are continuously working on product innovation as we anticipate consumer needs and changes in the market.”
For sun care formulators, the sun never sets when it comes to changing consumer needs and government legislation.