The beginning of summer always seems to be accompanied by an onslaught of sunscreens. The market is crowded with lotions and sprays, powders and lip balms, and, increasingly, multi-tasking products with inventive application methods that are touted for their ability to do more than just block the UVA and UVB rays that lead to sunburns, skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.
Indeed, many of the season’s new sun care products were designed to marry broad-spectrum sun protection with anti-aging compounds, moisturizers, makeup — even self tanners.
“The world of sun care has changed. It used to be enough that you just had an SPF product. You were going to the beach or pool and you knew you needed sun protection. But sun damage happens every day, so we’re looking for more out of our formulas,” said Holly Thaggard, owner and founder of Supergoop, in San Antonio — a maker of broad-spectrum sunscreens that incorporate anti-aging compounds in formulas that are free of parabens, fragrance, oxybenzone and other chemicals common to mass-market brands.
Earlier this month, Supergoop (sold at Sephora, Nordstrom, Macy’s and other retailers) introduced a broad-spectrum 20 SPF sunscreen and self tanner that works gradually and doesn’t rub off on clothes or towels. In February, the company also introduced a lightweight 30 SPF serum for the face, which absorbs quickly and doesn’t look or feel greasy.
“The whole idea is to get away from the lifeguard, white-nose look. Everyone wants it very transparent,” said Chris Birchby, founder of COOLA, an Oceanside, Calif.-based company that makes a broad variety of certified organic, chemical-free, broad-spectrum sunscreens. Among COOLA’s offerings is a matte-finish tinted sunscreen for the face that is incredibly lightweight and utterly unlike the gooey formulations of so many other mineral sunscreens that make wearers resemble Mummenschanz.
COOLA products are made with zinc and titanium, which work by reflecting sunlight, but the particles are encapsulated and coated to make them disperse more equally and, therefore, more transparently, said Birchby, who added that he was inspired to bring COOLA to market in 2009 after both his parents were diagnosed with melanoma.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the incidence of its most deadly form — melanoma — increasing 2.3 percent for men and 2.5 percent for women annually. More than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Ironically, the incidence of skin cancer is growing even as the market for sunscreens expands. But most of us don’t use enough protection. A shot glass full of sunscreen should be applied to exposed skin every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, but most people apply just 25 percent to 50 percent of the recommended amount.
If the best sunscreen is the sunscreen people will use, multi-tasking products that are easy to apply and fold into busy lives may offer a solution.