Beauty Innovation

After the great rise of SPF, what’s next?

Brands representatives from Skinome, Gun Ana, and Perrigo share lessons learned and what’s coming in this booming market.

10 Jul 2023

As we’re entering a long-awaited summer season, the beauty industry seeks to be prepared for growing consumer demand for SPF products. This multi-billion market is projected to grow at a CAGR of at least 5% — where some market predictions suggest up to 9% — in the next five, or six years, so there’s money to make.

This recent development seems to be driven by shifting consumer behaviour, where the demand rises for non-greasy, quickly absorbing high-protection products with SPF 30–50+ instead of 10–15.

— We know awareness has increased a lot in the past years. The younger generations are much more aware when it comes to the risks of UV damage on the skin, say Kajsa Regnér and Sigrid Osvald, founders of Gun Ana, offering a range of multifunctional products in a sleek packaging providing hydration and help to build up the skin barrier.

Ulf Åkerström, Head of Innovation at Skinome, a research-focused brand offering a range of SPFs and other freshly made, refrigerated skincare products, agrees.

— The consumer becomes more and more aware of which UV filters to use and to avoid, for safety but also for the environment. We also see a preference for lighter formulations since today, we have better UV filters and emollients available, and also other application formats, like sticks, sprays, and mousses.

Anna Fasth is Senior Formulation Scientist at the world’s largest manufacturer of over-the-counter (OTC) self-care products, Perrigo. She shares that since suncare products are used on holidays and summer days by the many, they are also strongly connected with enjoyment.

— Therefore, she says, they should help the end consumer to enjoy these moments of freedom and relaxation to a maximum and we see that textures and sensory of the sunscreens are becoming more important.

The research around SPF is comprehensive, not the least to find the next-generation sunscreen, and one recently emerging topic in the scientific community, Anna Fasth explains, is that different skin tones have different needs. Fair skin needs high SPF to protect from burning and darker skin tones have a higher need for high UVA and protection in HEV light areas to avoid hyperpigmentation.

— Moving forward, I believe there will be a continued focus on high UVA protection and HEV protection, she predicts.

— There is interesting research regarding upcycling bioactive food waste such as onion peels and pineapple peels that have shown tendencies to enhance the UV filters due to their high level of antioxidant and photoprotective properties, Kajsa Regnér and Sigrid Osvald say.

Gun Ana’s product range uses a filter combination that contains Parsol EHT, the most efficient UV-B absorber on the market and is also eco-friendly, which reduces the overall amount of filters needed in the product to make space for other ingredients.

— There have been many reports discussing UV filters and their impact on our oceans, coral reefs, and humans, Kajsa Regnér and Sigrid Osvald say. We hope that the increasing demand for good SPF products will help snowball the development of better and more eco-friendly filters. We also use a plant-based, biodegradable film former, which helps the product form an even shield from UV rays and gives it water-resistant properties.

Ulf Åkerström at Skinome highlights three particular areas within this research.

— It’s about how to get better protection against sunburn and aging, skin cancer or other skin conditions; how to get better and safer use of UV-filters and products, for example, avoid sensitization, possible skin reaction, or an endocrine disrupting effect from the UV-filters, and the products’ environmental effects, he shares. For all three, there is increasing evidence that you should use sunscreens with high — or highest — SPFsto protect the skin from burning or damage. And also that the newest and most modern UV filters approved and allowed in Europe are the best and the safest to use, both for the skin and the environment. It’s all about the selection of the UV filters and unfortunately, you still see a lot of products that contain older versions of it, which are associated with negative health effects such as endocrine disruptor activity as well as allergy risk.

How do you forecast the future of SPF?

— Except for a focus on security, since SPF is about protection, I think we will see even more evidence for how important the use of sunscreens is for reducing the risks and more communication around protection that goes beyond pure UV protection, says Åkerström. That said, there is currently limited evidence regarding the significance of protecting the skin from visible light, blue light, infrared, and such, at the doses we are normally exposed to. Despite this, you see a lot of communication and buzz about it.

— We believe in more interesting formulations when it comes to sunscreen, Kajsa Regnér and Sigrid Osvald say, where SPF will follow the same trends as other skincare products. Consumers want novelty when it comes to ingredients, the texture of the formulations, and how to use them. We see a big trend when it comes to multifunction. Make-up can also be skincare and sunscreen at the same time. People will want to buy less products but maintain the number of benefits — simplify the routine to save money and Co2. We are excited to see how we can merge tech into the industry, with great potential in creating more personalised products and efficiency in the supply chain.

Lastly, Anna Fasth, what’s the biggest misconception for end consumers when it comes to SPF?

— That there is a big difference between SPF 30, 50, and 50+. In reality, SPF 30 stops 97% of UV rays and SPF 50+ stops 98,3%, so the difference is quite small — if you have applied the sunscreen correctly.

This is an outtake from our weekly insights newsletter Beauty Innovation.