April 11th, 2022

What’s Next in Sunscreen

You’ve likely noticed that the sun care conversation over the past couple of years has gone mainstream. The public’s general knowledge of the sun care space has elevated, along with the formulations that consumers are expecting, and brands can benefit from understanding this new level of attention.

Jocelyn Yu, Innovation Chemist for Prime Matter Labs, encourages anyone entering or evolving within the space to closely follow changing regulations. At the present, “findings are under another period of review before the FDA can put out any new law,” says Yu of the latest legislation. In the meantime, brands would be wise to focus on “the whole experience of the product, from applying to how it feels on the skin afterwards, to even how it plays under makeup.”

What is Cosmetic Elegance?

What is Cosmetic Elegance?

While discussions continue on the benefits of mineral vs. chemical, consumers are paying for the texture and feel of the product. In industry speak, this is called “cosmetic elegance.” A product’s cosmetic elegance relates directly to how delightful, even luxurious the application experience can be.

For a sunscreen that’s meant to be applied daily, aspects like texture, an ability to layer, and overall clarity (no white case) are paramount. Market trends prove that beyond mineral and chemical formulations, customers want a streamlined routine—and an invisible solution. A consistently seamless user experience generates brand recognition.

A Case for Perfecting Tone

A Case for Perfecting Tone

Although the pandemic saw a downward trend for sunscreen sales (likely the result of spending over a year indoors), the sun care market is growing. The category experiencing the greatest demand? Tinted SPFs have reportedly experienced over 48% year-over-year growth, and experts expect sunscreens that cover a range of skin tones to continue to lead exponentially.

Clear chemical formulas are already popular, with interest in the long-term safety of ingredients on the rise. As the mineral market expands, solutions for all skin tones are top of mind. For this, Yu recommends revisiting nano mineral variations. There are materials available that impact SPF value without increasing SPF active material: “You can use less zinc or titanium, which would lead to a decrease in the white cast,” Yu explains.

The Future Skinification of SPF

The Skinification of SPF

Prestige leaders in the space understand that infusing SPF formulas with ingredients that cover more than sun protection moves toward a larger goal of normalizing everyday use. It’s part of what Yu describes as the skinification of sunscreen.

“We are seeing a shift back to multifunctional products and also hybrid products,” she explains of the need for brands to consider “loading sunscreens with other actives to give more functionality,” similar to what we see with moisturizers, serums, and masks. “Having an efficacious product is no longer reserved just for serums,” says Yu. She points out that multi-step systems in K-Beauty and beyond are being refined to make way for one-and-done options and “blending products in the same category.” Perhaps, for sunscreen, this comes in the form of an SPF that can capture the effects of a tinted moisturizer, serum, and blue-light blocker.

Yu offers a glimpse of what’s next: “They have lotions and creams to meet the demands of people’s different preferences and needs at different times of the year,” she shares. In the same way that one might swap a heavy cold-weather moisturizer for a hydrating gel in warmer months, sunscreen options will further splinter into a wider range of categories that better advertise their daily benefits, like chemical screens (that tend to be oilier) in the winter and waterproof mineral coverage in the summer with a higher SPF. Whatever its final form, the future of sun care is about modernizing and streamlining user experience.


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