Sun Protection Conference Addresses the Future of Sun Care

The poster exhibition at the Sun Protection Conference 2013
The poster exhibition at the Sun Protection Conference 2013

The 12th International Sun Protection Conference was held on June 4-5, 2013, at The Royal College of Physicians in London with the theme "Sun Protection for the 21st Century." The conference opened the summer season for sun care scientists, and the topics included SPF and UVA standard tests, new sunscreen actives, greater product efficacy and improved product textures.

Formulation, Testing and Regulation of Sun Care Products

The technical presentations by renowned experts from the industry and academia reviewed the history of SPF testing (BASF), prediction of the sunscreen efficacy (Coty–Lancaster), new methods of SPF assessment (Johnson & Johnson), an update on ISO test methods worldwide (L’Oréal), inter-laboratory comparison of functional tests (BIPEA), worldwide regulations (dR Cosmetics Regulations) and sunscreen safety in the EU (Vrije Universiteit Brussel).

Julian Hewitt, PhD, from UV Care Technologies outlined the future formulation strategies to develop high SPF and aesthetically pleasing products with minimal levels of sunscreens to improve the feel and efficacy of sun care emulsions. Strategies included spectral optimization, inorganic/organic synergy and bi-phasic distribution.

Melanoma, Sunscreen and Vitamin D

Sun protection, as a tool for health and wellbeing, was discussed within the context of the recent controversy surrounding vitamin D deficiency, sun exposure and increasing skin cancer despite greater awareness of sun damage to the skin.

In an inspirational talk, Prof. Nina Jablonski, PhD, from Pennsylvania State University, explained the evolution of human skin pigmentation as a compromise between the conflicting demands of photoprotection and photosynthesis of vitamin D. She said that the pattern of skin color adaptation established in prehistory has been disrupted in the last 500 years by migration and urbanization that lead to higher susceptibility to sun-exposure related diseases.

Craig Sinclair from the Cancer Council in Victoria, Australia, gave his perspective on influencing consumers’ sun protection behavior. He said that over the last 30 years both sun exposure and skin cancer awareness have increased. People are less inclined to want a very dark tan and use more sun protection products. Although attitudes towards sun exposure have improved, it is not still taken seriously enough during day-to-day activities such as gardening over the summer. The continuing rise in melanoma rates suggests there is still a long way to go. He shared his recommendations on how to motivate positive sun protection behavior through multi-component campaigns in different settings, including a focus on positive messages, smart phone apps and social media.

Prof. Helen Macdonald, PhD, from the University of Aberdeen discussed the role of vitamin D and its health benefits, highlighting the dilemma of its deficiency and adequate sun exposure. In the UK, the main source of vitamin D is sunlight, but only in spring and summer months. She stressed that the advice to restrict sunlight exposure in the summer might reduce skin cancer risk but will also reduce vitamin D synthesis, particularly in some ethnic communities, and discussed possible pitfalls in supplementing the vitamin through diet.

Prof. Antony Young, PhD, from King’s College London confirmed that sufficient vitamin D synthesis is possible with proper use of sunscreen in a sunny climate. He compared vitamin D levels of a control group with people who applied sunscreen according to SPF test specifications in a one-week field study in Tenerife (Canary Islands). As expected, sunscreen use prevented the sunburn in the intervention group, but both groups saw a significant increase of vitamin D.

Steven Wang, MD, from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, reported on the essential role of vitamin D in skeletal health and explained how the effect of sun protection on vitamin D production differs depending on Fitzpatrick skin types, geographical location and culture, making a case for a personalized sunscreen approach.

Paul Matts, PhD, and Jay Nash, PhD, from Procter & Gamble stated that it is important for the sun care industry to serve its consumers by delivering daily photoprotection to reduce skin cancer and preventing the premature signs of aging.

Future Consumers’ Expectations

Anne Canet-Charpentier from Attraction S.a.r.l. discussed future expectations of social media users for sun care products, highlighting the interplay and complexity of all sun protection issues. Sensory properties of sun care products are key to consumer appeal.

Jürgen Vollhardt, PhD, from DSM discussed the analysis of 28 sensory parameters of sun care products, identification of key differentiating attributes, sensory families and sensorial landscapes for product comparison.

John Staton from Dermatest noted that consumers not achieving the same level of tanning are likely to facilitate the growth of the self-tanning market. He evaluated the performance and color retention efficacy of self-tanning products.

The Sun Protection Conference delivered an exciting and comprehensive bi-annual update on sun protection concepts, technology, regulations and product testing, explored the need to create holistic approach and shared the vision of sun protection for the 21st century.

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