DSM’s leading emulsifier potassium cetyl phosphate has demonstrated superior applicability in novel sun protection formulations compared to similar potassium cetyl phosphate emulsification technologies. Its flexibility and broad compatibility enable the integration of sun protection into skin care and cosmetic products that offer the added benefits, ultimate protection and appealing textures sought by consumers all over the world.
Adequate sun protection not only prevents premature skin ageing with its associated fine lines and wrinkles: it also offers vital protection against the UV radiation that can lead to skin cancer. Happily, today’s UV filters have the capacity to protect even the most sensitive skin against high levels of UV radiation. Yet surveys reveal that people are reluctant to apply sunscreen often enough and in sufficient amounts to ensure proper protection. At DSM, consumer insight researchers have been carrying out in-depth investigations to establish the reasons for this.
This research starts by asking What? and Why?, followed by What Next? To begin with, researchers ask consumers in different regions of the world about their sun care beliefs, behaviours and needs. They subsequently analyse this information to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of perceived problems. It then goes on to create solutions that provide tangible benefits, meet identified consumer needs and give its customers that all-important competitive advantage.
Beliefs, behaviours and needs
Consumers appear to be aware of the impact of the environment on their skin. According to Mintel Consumer Data Charts, 41% of French women believe the environment affects their skin’s appearance and 50% of Spanish women believe that sun exposure affects the look of their facial skin, for example. Yet only 28% of Spaniards wear sun protection all year round, 65% of Germans only wear sun protection when it is sunny outside and 40% of Italians only wear sun protection when they are on holiday.
Over 30% of Germans reported that they do not burn easily and like to have a tan, while 46% of French people surveyed said they don’t spend enough time outside to warrant using sun protection on a daily basis. Twenty-one per cent of Spanish people do not like the feel of sun protection on their skin.
The Chinese appear to be more inclined to use sunscreens than Europeans, with 34% of Chinese people using facial sun block in the past 6 months. Use is higher among women than among men (48% vs. 21%).
SPF – the higher the better
Despite the relatively low use of sun protection, the consensus when choosing sun protection factors appears to be ‘the higher the better’. Fifty-one per cent of the Europeans surveyed said they have previously used products with a high SPF (30-50+) and would use them again. This contrasts with 33% who would choose a medium SPF (15-25) and just 24% who would opt for a low SPF (below 15).
Enhancing sensory appeal to overcome discrepancies between need, availability and uptake
These consumer insights reveal several reasons for the reluctance to use adequate sun care despite the awareness of the necessity for protection:
- Sunscreens are thought to feel sticky and uncomfortable;
- The greasy film sunscreens leave on the hands can make everyday tasks awkward;
- Applying sun protection products is viewed as time-consuming;
- And in the case of facial sun protection, it can also interfere with the normal, dayto-day beauty regime.
There is therefore clearly a need for innovative sun protection applications that complement conventional sunscreens and can be easily and effectively integrated into people’s daily lives and personal care routines. The increasing demand for multitasking facial sun care products such as alphabet creams, in particular, poses new challenges – and therefore opportunities – for formulators.
In this context the sensory appeal of personal care products now ranks alongside product efficacy as an extremely important decision driver. At DSM, quantitative sensory assessment of applications is a core competence, with a team of highly skilled sensory evaluators dedicated to providing descriptive and objective sensory data for all lotion types and other semi-solid formulations.
Emulsifiers: a key ingredient in performance and sensory perception
To achieve the high SPF levels clearly desired by consumers, sunscreen formulations must contain a high proportion of oily UV filters. And in the case of colour cosmetic formulations of all kinds, the product must also be able to incorporate sometimes large quantities of pigments like titanium dioxide either used as colorant or UV-filter.
Emulsified systems make it possible to create formulations which balance this requirement for oily UV filters with the desire for products which are easy to apply and form a non-greasy, smooth film on the skin. In such systems the emulsifier plays a central role in stabilising the emulsion, especially when it needs to incorporate high concentrations of challenging ingredients such as UV filters, pigments, salts, and ethanol. The latter ingredient is particularly important, because increasing the alcohol content of a formulation gives a lighter texture and provides a refreshing skin sensation.
The ability to increase the alcohol concentration also gives formulators greater flexibility in their choice of emulsion preservative system, or may even eliminate the need for one.
Correlation between emulsifier phosphate content and alcohol and pigment compatibility
New tests performed by DSM with its leading emulsifier brand Amphisol® K (INCI name: Potassium Cetyl Phosphate) demonstrated that the emulsifier facilitates stabilisation of formulations with ethanol concentrations from 0% up to 15%.
Comparison of a number of market emulsifiers using the same technology showed the phosphate content of DSM potassium cetyl phosphate to be from 3 to 84 times lower than that of the comparisons, indicating a correlation between lower phosphate content and better alcohol compatibility
The test results also revealed that typical market formulations containing pigments using potassium cetyl phosphate technologies with higher level of phosphate either showed phase separation after a few weeks or a dramatic increase in viscosity over time.
In contrast, with DSM potassium cetyl phosphate viscosity remained stable over the 3-month test period compared to competition, even in tests with pigment concentrations up to 10%. DSM potassium cetyl phosphate therefore outperformed similar market technologies for pigment compatibility.
A gold standard in robust emulsification
Using cutting edge technology known as freeze-fracture Transmission Electron Microscopy, DSM has shown for the first time how potassium cetyl phosphate uniquely forms the rarely seen microdomains in emulsions which are thought to stabilse liquid crystalline vesicular structures – visual proof that this oil-in-water emulsifier is capable of delivering outstanding stability combined with ease of product development
This highly versatile ingredient can help formulators achieve extremely stable skin care products over a broad range – from body lotions to makeup products and beyond. Moreover, it has a positive impact on UV filter performance, and on the formulation’s texture, its appearance – for example shiny or silky white – and the overall sensory experience.
DSM potassium cetyl phosphate itself has a good affinity to skin. The product is absorbed very quickly and leaves skin feeling dry and cared-for at the same time. It therefore not only boosts the sun protection effect, but also achieves a very good skin care effect, with skin looking and feeling soft and smooth.
DSM potassium cetyl phosphate works well with both polar and non-polar oils and is also ideal for low viscosity sprays.
From insights to solutions
If genuine consumer needs and expectations are to be satisfied, they must first be reliably identified and interpreted. But then the real challenge begins: the quest for a solution that meets those demands in all their complexity – and adds significant value to the products created.
DSM has taken bold steps to resolve identified dilemmas with targeted solutions featuring their own potassium cetyl phosphate:
The SPF 50+ dilemma
Current very high SPF products do not deliver the required sensory experience. Products with the highest SPF have a reputation for being greasy and leaving a white film on the skin, making them unattractive to consumers. This in turn leads people to apply too little product too infrequently, leaving them without the complete protection they need.
The solution: Bare skin feel SPF 50+
An SPF 50+ product that challenges consumer sensory perceptions of high SPF products.
- Fast-absorbing formulation
- Dry touch and matte feel
- No whitening
- SPF 50+ for optimal protection
- Suitable for body and facial care
The smartphone dilemma
Applying a sunscreen leaves your hands sticky and oily, making it impossible to use your phone, tablet or e-book reader without leaving greasy finger marks, and restricting your pleasure in everyday activities.
The solution: Touch ready SPF 30
A sun care product that tackles the ‘smartphone dilemma’.
- This product is outstanding for its dry touch, with negligible stickiness and almost no residue on the fingers after rubbing in.
- Perfect for situations where sun care refreshment needs to be especially quick and efficient.
The aerosol dilemma
Consumers like spray application formats as they allow quick and easy application, but may be concerned about the environmental impact and prefer not to use aerosols. Pump sprays are environmentally-friendly but often fail to provide the desired sensory experience.
The solution: Gentle Spray SPF 30
A sun care product that addresses the application issue in a sustainable way.
- Easy-to-use light formulation with a pump spray that offers a sustainable alternative to aerosols.
- Ideal for use on-the-go, during outdoor and sporting activities, or to refresh facial sun protection during the day