As the Saying Goes, “The Best Sunscreen Is One You’ll Actually Use.”

The first thought many people have when they hear the word “sunscreen” is something along the lines of, “This protects me from skin cancer, but sometimes it’s goopy, appallingly white, and smelly.” Consumers understand that SPF helps prevent melanoma and the signs of aging, but they are also concerned about the safety of their products. For example, “SPF benzene” had not charted any search interest for five years until May of this year, when it skyrocketed. The search terms “SPF safe” reached peak interest during the week of May 19, 2019, a couple weeks after a randomized clinical trial published findings on systemic absorption of sunscreen active ingredients. Brands can establish consumer trust with clean sun protection through spreadable, sheer, and safe mineral UV filters. Formulators have the unique ability to create safe, clean suncare that not only protects consumers but also delights them with each application.

Aprinnova joined Mintel to establish the best practices for formulating consumer-friendly sunscreens during “The Rise of Clean Sun Protection: LIVE” on August 17, 2021. During the session, experts offered clear guidance on participants’ questions on new regulatory, safety, environmental, and consumer criteria to succeed with clean SPF protection. Below are key strategies from the session to reach consumers’ must-have claims, minimize skin absorption risk, and promote uniform protection after application of clean sun protection.

The Main Drivers of Consumer Compliance

Today’s sunscreens offer a wide range of benefits from sweat-resistance, water-resistance, blue light protection, and more. Understanding which benefits resonate the most with consumers gets brands’ products into shopping carts. Clare Hennigan, the Senior Beauty Analyst at Mintel, outlined the top five purchase influencers gathered in Mintel’s Skin Protection Report:

  • Level of sun protection – 67 percent
  • Water-resistant – 41 percent
  • Format (e.g. spray, stick) – 27 percent
  • Clean formula – 26 percent
  • Brand – 25 percent

It is unsurprising that the level of sun protection ranks as the highest purchase influencer, as it is the main function of sunscreen. However, Mintel showed that 40 percent of female facial skincare users find it difficult to know which level of sun protection to use on a daily basis. As the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends an SPF of 30 or higher with broad-spectrum coverage, brands should prioritize an adequately high level of sun protection using UV filters like zinc oxide that provide UVA and UVB protection.

Why Zinc Oxide is the Preferred UV Filter

A 2019 FDA proposed rule indicated that both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only confirmed GRASE UV filters and that various chemical UV filters require additional studies to be performed. Zinc oxide — nano or non-nano — has been shown not to penetrate into the viable epidermis. It also provides UVA and UVB protection making it the UV filter of choice. The FDA is continuing to evaluate the safety of various chemical sunscreens, such as octocrylene, after studies showed some sunscreen active ingredients can be absorbed through the skin into the body. Although absorption does not necessarily equate to a lack of safety, it raises the need to evaluate if it could lead to potentially harmful levels of carcinogens.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Matta et al. demonstrated the skin penetration potential of common chemical UV filters. They analyzed four commercially available sunscreen products: a lotion, an aerosol spray, a non-aerosol spray, and a pump spray. The six active ingredients tested for were avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and octinoxate. Matta et al. showed that upon a single application, all six tested active ingredients and all four formulations resulted in measurable levels of the chemical UV filters in the blood.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently published that only 25 percent of 1,800 SPF products tested offered adequate protection without potentially hazardous ingredients like oxybenzone. These studies and findings heavily influence consumer beliefs underscoring the importance of safe sun protection and the demand for mineral UV dispersions from the everyday consumer. In addition, calls from scientists to remove octocrylene-containing products have led to the need for brands to reformulate with mineral sunscreens.

Produce Safe, Effective Products with SPF Using CleanScreen Z60SF

Given these drivers, zinc oxide UV dispersions that do not leave whitecast thereby promoting usage by consumers are more important than ever. CleanScreen Z60SF was developed as the new clean SPF standard to help formulators succeed: 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 without compromising safety or trust: Request a sample.

TRY CLEANSCREEN Z60SF

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A version of this post was previously published by Amyris, Aprinnova's joint venture partner.  Sustainability starts at the source — and Amyris’ feedstock source is sustainably harvested sugarcane, certified by Bonsucro, [...]