The long way towards the ideal sunscreen—where we stand and what still needs to be done
The magnitude and quality of UV protection provided by topical sun products have improved considerably over the past three decades. As our knowledge and understanding of sun protection requirements increases, product and testing technologies advance and new sunscreen molecules and technologies become available. The biannual London Sun Protection Conference has monitored this development over the last two decades. The 2009 edition of the conference (June 3 and 4) was entitled “Perfection of Protection”. This paper, based on our talk given at the conference, tries to answer the question about the “ideal sunscreen” and explores four key requirements of good UV protection regarding where we stand on a ranking scale between poor and perfect, and what still needs to be done. Technology is leading with a rating of 80%, Assessment/measurement follows at 70%, Norms/standards around 50% and Compliance ranks only around 30% between poor and perfect. UV filters are the heart of the product technology. Besides UVB-filters, plenty of UV filters for UVA II and UVA I protection are now available in most parts of the world, except the USA. Although the Sun Protection Factor is well established and various methods have been developed for assessment of UVA protection, the performance measurement of sunscreens is still far from perfect. On the other hand, the high bar for achieving the highest UVA protection in the various classification systems released recently in Europe (2006) and the USA (2007) already helped to increase the protection considerably. The greatest problem however, remains poor compliance. Providing cosmetically pleasing formulations that people like to wear and communicating what sunscreens are and how they work are key elements in improving UV protection.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Topical and systemic photoprotection