Q&A

Senior chemist at Univar Solutions' thoughts on organic UV filter formulation

By Ravyn Cullor contact

- Last updated on GMT

As a distributor, Univar Solutions works with cosmetics clients to create UV protective products. © Getty Images - peepo
As a distributor, Univar Solutions works with cosmetics clients to create UV protective products. © Getty Images - peepo

Related tags: Uv filters, Sunscreen, Sun care, UV protection, Formulation

Mineral UV filters are trendy right now, but inorganic UV filters are still a big part of the SPF product market.

CosmeticsDesign spoke with Univar Solutions Senior Chemist Alex Walther about what's happening in organic UV filters today.

Let's start out with the basics of what you see happening in organic UV filter formulation in the US right now.

When it comes to UV, it really comes down to consumer perception and the consumer demand, what consumers are buying. There are still quite a lot of organic UV filters in the store, consumers still seem to buy them, but then we are seeing the physical filters increase as well.

UV filters

An organic UV filter, also known as a chemical filter, absorbs UV radiation to protect the skin. Inorganic, or physical, filters reflect UV radiation.

Realistically, sunscreens are really a great field, because they're one where we're actually seeing the consumer power and how the consumer spends their money.  

What are some of the challenges in organic UV filter formulation in the US right now?

A lot of the challenges, whenever we talk about SPF, are going to be tactile. If we're doing organic filters, most of them are oils, and to put enough oils in to have a high SPF could feel greasy. As a formulator, we need those SPF filters in there because they work and they've shown to be functional.

SPF is one of the best-kept secrets for anti-aging and it's also good for not getting skin cancer. But when we're actually formulating, we need to balance that texture that they bring, especially with the higher SPF. We have some great options for sensory modifiers in both waxes and silicons that can really help give a more comfortable sensory feel on the skin.

What's does innovation look like for you, considering the limitations on what organic UV filters can be used in the US?

No one is happy that we haven't had new filters in a while, because there have been innovations. I think the FDA is beginning to hear that from consumers and from manufacturers. We're along for that ride, as well. When we get more filters, there will be more options for us.

But honestly, with the filters we do have, you can create efficacious formulas that are going to give you all the benefits you need in your real-life and that protect you from UV radiation.

Inorganic filters have been trendy ingredients recently. What consumer demands are keeping organic filters on the market?

There are two schools of thought. If you're looking at the physical filters, there are going to be some clear reasons you want that. But with organic filters, one of the advantages of not being physical is they don't create an off-white cast. 

There are a lot of sensory benefits compared to the physical filters. It really comes down to your skin and what feels comfortable. At the end of the day, what the consumer buys and continues to rebuy is really going to drive a lot of these choices.

What kind of organic UV products have you been most excited to work on recently?

They're hybrid products with cosmetics. You have everything you need in one product, with some moisturizing, some anti-aging and some SPF, the whole kitchen sink in one product that can really be one and done in the morning.

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