Beyond the Obvious

What are the biggest challenges in sun care formulating? I asked a few colleagues, and they answered: achieving what marketing wants while complying with regulations and making sunscreens esthetically pleasing (so consumers will use them); and the lack of international harmonization in UV filters, UVA testing and labeling. These issues are not new, so why are they not yet resolved? Perhaps because regulations and consumer demand are moving targets, which are difficult to hit.

Since consumer fears underlie most regulations, one could theoretically remain a step ahead by predicting consumer behavior. I do not own a crystal ball and my tarot deck is a bit dusty, so I cannot tell you what consumers want next. I can tell you, though, that products that gain the most consumer attention are noticeably different from others on the market and stand out by incorporating step-change innovations. So where are these innovations found? I think the answer lies in looking beyond the obvious or known, and not just at successes, but also failures.

Take one of my favorite failure-based successes: champagne. While attempts intially were made to remove its dancing bubbles, once they gained consumer acceptance, demand for the product remained steady and has since the 17th century. Imagine product loyalty like that.

Looking beyond the known, this month I will attend Informex USA in New Orleans to explore the pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and adhesives industries, among others, for technologies that could shape future personal care products. In addition, to complement our well-known technical and formulating-focused content, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine is adding two columns from novel perspectives. “Science Exposed” digs into industry controversies to strip them down to the scientific facts. This month, sun care expert Brian Diffey, PhD, critiques the current SPF test method and urges necessary changes be made. Also, “Consumer Perspective” by Katerina Steventon, PhD, brings R&D closer to consumers by covering commercial trends and related science; here, products that even skin tone are featured as the latest rage in anti-aging skin care. Furthermore, Jack Surrette looks beyond typical sunscreening to instead gauging one’s UV exposure to complement sun protection by allowing for healthy vitamin D production by the body.

Since answers may lie in successes as well as failures, and I’ve failed to fit all of this issue’s highlights here, be sure to check out the rest of the issue, or you may just miss the step-change innovation you were seeking.

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