Testing Sun Protection Factor on Skin

Consumer product testing and the procedures behind claims substantiation protocols are topics of increasing interest in the new product development process. And as stated in previous articles,1 whether producing cosmetics for small, independent boutique brands or for large multinational corporations, the race to enhance—or, at the very least, match—a product’s on-pack claims to the competitors’ is of paramount importance to gain the crucial foothold in the relevant market and target demographic.

Consumer knowledge about the skin’s aging process and the hazardous implications of overexposure to UV radiation has moved SPF products from purely safety-directed marketing campaigns to strongly efficacious selling points. In addition, UV protection is now incorporated into daily moisturizing products as well as sun protection products, and this has all led to an increased volume of SPF product tests submitted to consumer testing houses. There are various test methods set by global governing bodies for SPF protection, but this article will discuss the five time-point internationally approved ISO 24444 method.

It must be noted that the debate between the benefits of multifunctional versus monomethodic products is presently rife within the industry; here it is only touched upon to acknowledge it and recommend further reading to draw personal conclusions. However, the expanded marketing opportunity of SPF products has led to the need for marketing and formulating teams to differentiate between similar products on the market. This is regularly facilitated by adding safety claims such as “hypoallergenic” or efficacy claims for higher SPF factors and/or full UVA/UVB protection on the package.

Whether the right sun protection is 15 or 100 is not in this article’s agenda; the answer will depend on the product’s use relative to the environment and regular re-application of the product by the user. What will be focused upon here is the process involved in testing sun protection products to ensure that claims, whatever they may be, are substantiated.

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