Sunscreens are back on store shelves and consumers debate to choose the best formula.
As we all know, two categories of sunscreen, differing on their distinct mode of action, are available:
- Chemical sunscreen: composed of organic molecules that absorb ultraviolet light
- Physical sunscreen: composed of mineral inorganic molecules that form a physical barrier on the skin surface that reflects or scatters ultraviolet light
Formulating sunscreen is not an easy task and many challenges are encountered. Recent industry events are reminding us of the complexity and challenges faced by formulators.
Below, are a few reminders to keep in mind:
- Chemical sunscreens are often recognized to offer a larger protection than mineral sunscreens however some of the ingredients authorized for use in chemical sunscreens are labelled as potentially harmful. Associations and groups such as EWG raise consumers’ awareness to potentially harmful additives. Accordingly, it is important to pay attention to all ingredients while formulating and to avoid potentially harmful or controversial ingredients.
- Mineral sunscreens often offer an unpleasant texture that makes their formulation more challenging, more time consuming and sometimes more expensive. Plan in advance to avoid surprises and delays.
- Mineral sunscreens may contain molecules that are classified as nanoparticles and hence that may be seen as potentially harmful: once again carefully review the specification sheet of each raw material.
- It is essential to consider both UVB and UVA protection when formulating sunscreen: UVA protection is often harder to achieve. Always ensure that the performance of your sunscreen is substantiated via adequate in vitro and in vivo studies to ensure product safety and efficacy.
- Sunscreen regulations are in place and provide strict guidelines listing authorized claims, labeling standards and requirements, and indicating the rigorous testing (both in vitro and in vivo clinical), that must be undertaken to ascertain that the SPF value claimed is adequate. Note however, that current regulations are not globally harmonized so it is essential to keep in mind the region where you intend to commercialize the product.
- Finally, caution should be taken when claiming high SPF protection as these products may be misleading to consumers and offer a false safety feeling: consumer safety should always be the priority of each formulator.
While the sunscreen market continues to grow, offering novel, more performing products; formulators and companies remain responsible for consumer safety: let’s never forget this!
If you wish to further discuss testing options don’t hesitate to send me an email or give me a call at 514-735-3253. Happy summer everyone!