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Natural sunscreen formulators may suffer under new European UVA regulation

By Katie Bird , 10-Jul-2009

New European regulations on sunscreens may make it harder for natural formulators to provide high SPF protection products, according to natural brand Lavera.

The changes to the regulations, which come into force in 2010, state that the UVA and UVB protection have to be provided in a 1 to 3 ratio.

In practice this means that an SPF 30 product has to provide the equivalent of SPF 10 in UVA protection.

For natural formulators, which rely on mineral filters zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, this can be challenging.

“We had no end of problems trying to reformulate to fit these requirements, but as a market leader we felt it was necessary,” said Graham Hume from Lavera UK.

“Lavera had to reintroduce zinc oxide into its formulations as it provides good UVA protection, but it is a much more expensive ingredient when compared to titanium dioxide,” he added.

SPF 20 not 40

The reformulations are also complicated to explain to consumers, he said, who are used to being able to purchase SPF 40 Lavera products and who can now only get hold of SPF 20.

However, the company has tried to explain to its consumers that the difference in protection in terms of UVB absorption between SPF 20 and 30 is actually only a few percent.

Hume confirmed that the mineral filters used in Lavera’s sun care products are used in the nanoscale; however, he said the particles were coated in stearic acid which, according to European research, stops the particles from penetrating the skin.

According to the company, a number of its competitors have not been able to reformulate so quickly, citing Dr Hauschka and Weleda. CosmeticsDesign tried to contact the companies but no one was available for comment.

“This regulation doesn’t apply until 2010, so these suppliers can sell old products until next year,” explained Hume.

However, Lavera’s decision to reformulate in time for this summer’s season means the company can display the new EU UVA logo, informing customers that the company’s products comply with the new regulation.

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