The Universal Selection Source: Cosmetics Ingredients

UV filters Selection

Sun plays a major role in skin aging. Many daily-use cosmetic products consist of UV protection ingredients as consumers have become more aware. Today’s sun care formulator must achieve high SPF and challenging UVA protection standards, while also making products elegant enough to encourage consumer compliance, and cost-effective enough to be affordable in difficult economic times. This guide will familiarize you with different UV filter chemistries and factors that improve their performance. Read on and find out which attributes to consider when selecting UV filters and select the right one for your formulation!

Sun Care


Sun careSun care, and in particular sun protection, is one of the fastest-growing segments of the personal care market. Also, UV protection is now being incorporated into many daily-use cosmetic products (for example, facial skin care products and decorative cosmetics), as consumers become more aware that the need to protect themselves from the sun does not only apply to a beach holiday.

Today’s sun care formulator must achieve high SPF and challenging UVA protection standards, while also making products elegant enough to encourage consumer compliance, and cost-effective enough to be affordable in difficult economic times. Efficacy and elegance are in fact dependent on one another; maximizing the efficacy of the actives used enables high SPF products to be created with minimal levels of UV filters, which allows the formulator greater freedom to optimize skin feel. Conversely, good product aesthetics encourage consumers to apply more products and therefore get closer to the labelled SPF.

Performance attributes to consider when selecting UV filters for cosmetic formulations

  • Safety for intended end-user group - All UV filters have been extensively tested to ensure that they are inherently safe for topical application; however certain sensitive individuals may have allergic reactions to particular types of UV filters.

  • SPF efficacy – this is dependent on wavelength of the absorbance maximum, the magnitude of the absorbance, and the breadth of the absorbance spectrum.

  • Broad spectrum / UVA protection efficacy – modern sunscreen formulations are required to meet certain UVA protection standards, but what is often not well understood is that UVA protection also makes a contribution to the SPF.

  • Influence on skin feeling – different UV filters have different effects on skin feeling; for example some liquid UV filters can feel “sticky” or “heavy” on the skin, while water-soluble filters contribute a drier skin feel.

  • Appearance on skin – inorganic filters and organic particulates can cause whitening on skin when used at high concentrations; this is usually undesirable, but in some applications (eg. baby sun care) it can be perceived as an advantage.

  • Photostability – several organic UV filters decay on exposure to UV, thus reducing their efficacy; but other filters can help to stabilize these “photo-labile” filters and reduce or prevent the decay.

  • Water resistance – inclusion of water-based UV filters alongside oil-based ones often provides a significant boost to SPF, but can make it more difficult to achieve water-resistance.


UVA / SPF Optimizing Test Protocol

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