Sunscreen regulatory developments this year have rapidly thrust reef safety and environmental concerns into the consumer spotlight. Regulations are changing the SPF landscape because of concern about coral reef wellbeing. Coral bleaching happens when corals lose their characteristic vibrancy — consumers are growing increasingly more aware and concerned of this. Consumers are now asking themselves, “Will my sunscreen destroy ecosystems, and which ingredients should I avoid?” Yet, without a standard industry definition of “reef-safe” or “reef-friendly” it can be difficult for brand marketers to communicate exactly what ingredients formulators should look to incorporate into new launches.

Aprinnova joined Mintel to provide expert guidance on reef safety, environmental considerations, and consumer criteria for ingredient selection during “The Rise of Clean Sun Protection: LIVE” on August 17, 2021. Below are key takeaways from the session to make it easier for brands ensure their next launch is environmentally sound.

What Does “Reef-Safe” or “Reef-Friendly” SPF Mean?

While there is not a legal definition for the terms, the standard practice considers chemical sunscreens as hazardous or potentially hazardous to marine life in coral reefs. In addition, nanoparticles have the potential to disturb coral reefs. Coral reefs are extremely sensitive to their external environment. Temperature increases of one degree Celsius for four weeks can trigger bleaching.

Healthy corals have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, microscopic algae which provide nutrition and the vibrant color for the corals. Changes in ocean temperature, runoff and pollution, overexposure to sunlight, or extremely low tides can all stress corals. Upon coral stressing, the zooxanthellae leave the coral. Therefore, corals lack their food source and become pale or white. After eight or more weeks without zooxanthellae, corals begin to die. Ultimately, “reef-safe” and “reef-friendly” claims can be met with mineral UV filters, such as non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, ensuring that there is no potential of harm to corals.

Hawaii Is Leading the Change in the Global SPF Landscape

Hawaii was the first in the world to  ban the sale and distribution of any sunscreens with oxybenzone or octinoxate. This restriction, which took effect on January 1, 2021, is expected to protect coral reefs, marine life, and human health. Given that the bulk of sunscreens commercially available today — 75 percent, in fact — contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone, this move to ban specific sunscreens is monumental.

The legislation from Hawaii inspired governments around the world to take action in the name of coral reefs. Key West City, Florida planned to follow suit until Governor DeSantis signed SB 172 that prohibited sunscreen bans. The U.S. Virgin Islands banned sunscreens with oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate since January 2020. Starting July 2020, Aruba has banned the use of oxybenzone. Bonaire’s Island Council unanimously approved a motion to ban sunscreen products with oxybenzone and octinoxate in January 2021. Lastly, the Republic of Palau adopted the world’s strictest national sunscreen standard to ban the sale and use of oxybenzone, octinoxate, oxtocrylene, and certain parabens. Brands can adapt to this new global marketplace with the safer alternatives: non-nano mineral UV filters.

The Silicone-Free Future of Suncare

The beauty market is also shifting towards a silicone-free future. The European Chemicals Agency recommended the tight regulation of cyclic methyl siloxanes D4, D5, and D6 due to their environmentally persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic potential. The European Commission moved to restrict the usage of D4 and D5 above 0.1% in wash-off personal care products. Consumers around the globe are more aware of the environmental regulations in Europe and want their products to reflect the same standards.

Natural alternatives, like Neossance™ Squalane and Hemisqualane, can replace D5 and other silicone fluids as carriers in sunscreens. Neossance Squalane powers the latest CleanScreen™ Z60SF sheer, non-nano zinc oxide dispersion. Neossance Squalane ensures an even distribution of zinc oxide particles for complete protection with no white cast. This silicone-free UV dispersion also comes in an easy-to-pour format that is highly spreadable, thanks to Neossance Squalane.

Protect the Reefs — Develop Suncare with Zinc Oxide in Silicone-Free CleanScreen Z60SF

CleanScreen Z60SF is a powerful non-nano, zinc oxide UV dispersion featuring Neossance Squalane that provides silky smooth SPF protection in skincare and color cosmetics without petrochemically derived ingredients or silicones. Product developers can easily launch anti-aging, non-whitening applications that provide complete coverage and align with consumers’ desire for clean beauty.

See how CleanScreen Z60SF can boost your next formulation: Request a sample.


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