50 YEARS OF SUN CARE
An Emphasis on Protection
By the mid-1990s, consumers’ opinion re-
garding UV exposure was beginning to turn
for the better (for industry), as Jim Mackey,
a senior vice president with Information
Resources Inc., noted: “Clearly, consumers
are looking to protect rather than tan.”
That sentiment was evident when the
National Weather Forecast Daily UV Index
report was extended to include 200 US cities
with marketers hoping consumers would
apply sunscreen on a regular basis even
when they weren’t headed to the beach or
pool. No wonder the introduction of Sport
formulas was in full swing and forward-think-
ing formulators at brands such as Lancaster,
Guerlain and Clinique were creating makeup with UV protection.
A couple of years into the new Millennium (2003), growing concerns about the dangers of getting too much sun was even more evident as SPF 50 formulas reached mass market shelves and sunless
tanner usage became widespread.
“The sun care industry is changing insomuch as SPFs are getting
higher; there is a realism that the only‘safe’ way to get a tanned-look-ing appearance is to use indoor tanning products,” Robert Dodwell,
VP-R&D, Breeze Products told HAPPI.
Today, the quest for more effective protection continues, but marketers have teamed up with packaging suppliers to introduce spray
formats that provide more uniform coverage. Formulas too, have
changed with more skin-caring ingredients that are aesthetically-pleasing as well; because, as everyone has come to realize, if the consumer doesn’t like applying UV protection, she’s not going to use
it. And while the recommendation to apply a shot-glass amount of
sunscreen every couple of hours still goes unheeded, a wide range of
formulation innovations over the years has made UV protection more
acceptable to consumers.
Dr. Curt Cole,VP-R&D, Johnson & Johnson, has followed the sun care
industry for decades. In fact, he wryly notes that much of his career has
been following the FDA and the elusive Final Sunscreen Monograph.
As a long-time expert, then, his views carry substantial weight. And
what does Cole think have been the biggest innovations in sun care
over the years? He lists three:
• Water proofing polymers/agents. They provide long-lasting pro-
tection when needed the most—at the beach, and under conditions
of high perspiration;
• High absorbance UVA filters. Primarily avobenzone, and photo-
stabilized avobenzone, they provide meaningful protection across the
whole spectrum, and prevent high levels of UVA radiation; and
• Low visibility inorganic filters (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide).
Both provide protection for sensitive skin in an aesthetically accept-
Nadim Shaath, president, Alpha R&D,
and another expert in the field, was asked
for his opinion regarding the biggest trends
that have impacted the sun care industry
during the past half century. He came up
with more than a dozen across a range of
In the area of raw materials, Shaath
included the introduction of avobenzone
(1996), zinc oxide (1998) and Mexoryl SX
(2006) as Category I ingredients, as well as
the introduction of new UVA and broad-spectrum ingredients in Europe.
In terms of the formulations themselves, he pointed to the dramatic growth
of the sun care industry (a $2.5 billion global
market), as well as the controversial proliferation of ultra high ( 100+)
SPF products, natural sunscreen claims which he labeled mostly false
and unsupported, and claims of high energy visible (HEV) and infrared protection (IR).
Changes to testing, too, have been dramatic, but here, much work
remains, according to Shaath.
“There is still no decision on eight European filters already in the
TEA process,”he told HAPPI.“Harmonized SPF testing worldwide has
not been completed and finalizing broad spectrum protection is not
adequate. And although the issuance of the Final Rule was effective
June 14, 2013, the Final Monograph has not yet been completed.”
“There’s been a dramatic growth of skin cancer worldwide, par-
ticularly in the US,”he observed.“Today, skin cancer is the most com-
mon form of cancer in the US.”
The good news for industry, Shaath pointed out, is Dr. Adele
Green’s 2011 study, which reported that the proper application of
sunscreen is very likely to significantly decrease the risk of UV ra-
diation-induced melanoma. A more recent study, conducted by Dr.
Elke Hackers in 2013, revealed that properly applied sunscreen can
prevent skin cancer.
Yet, despite the proven benefits of sunscreen, social media and
consumer groups continue to dominate the conversation about UV
protection, he said.
“The internet buzz has some positives, but mostly negatives that
sunscreens promote skin cancer and prevent vitamin D formation,”
Shaath told HAPPI.
Other negatives include disparaging reports about oxybenzone
and nanoparticles, as well as non-government organizations such
The Environmental Working Group and Friends of the Earth imposing their standards on the industry.
To sum up about sun protection, it’s clear that there’s been lots
of good news, some bad news and many issues that are still making
news. If one were to forecast the sun care market’s fortune for the next
50 years, it would surely be sunny, with a few scattered clouds.•
Sun care has taken new forms over the years.