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Fun in the Sun: 2023’s Biggest SPF Trends

Published June 29, 2023
Published June 29, 2023
Troy Ayala

Summer is here. It’s time for tanning on the beach, picnics in the park, and holidays to far-off lands, and with this comes an influx of SPF-related products, as well as consumers seeking education around the topic. According to Spate, concern surrounding sun damage has increased in 2023, with 25.3K average monthly searches in the US for the term “sun damage”—an increase of 28.9% from 2022. While consumers are seeking education surrounding SPF products, with their market value expected to reach $14.7Bn by 2028, 58% of Americans are still reporting only using SPF in the summer months. Brands are noticing this, and therefore releasing SPF offerings throughout the summer season, using the time to inform consumers of the need to protect their skin all year round. Aside from educating on SPF usage, reef-friendly formulations have been at the forefront  with developments in science-led research. There has also been a focus on hair and scalp suncare releases, which has often gone under the radar, with these products taking the form of powder and sprays. Last but certainly not least, protection for melanated skin is gaining a new focus. To stay on top of the trends, BeautyMatter has identified the biggest suncare patterns for 2023.

Yearlong Consumer Cycle:

Although SPF products are still being released heavily around the summer period, there has been a shift from a three-month consumer cycle  to an all-year-round cycle, with  encouragement from experts for people to wear SPF every day. The American Academy of Dermatology reported that one in five people in the US will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found 90% of all skin cancers are directly related to UV radiation from the sun. These findings have helped motivate consumers to be more cognizant of using sunscreen, as evidenced by Mintel’s findings that 54% of US sunscreen users are applying more sunscreen than they were a year ago. Brands like Supergoop! encourage their customers to wear sunscreen daily—the brand founded by Holly Thaggard produces a vast range of SPF products including Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50, which is available in an economical 18-ounce jug, enough to last the consumer 360 days a year. all year round.

Fun in the Sun:

In recent years we’ve seen a rise in on-the-go and playful serotonin-boosting beauty products such as Starface’s colorful Pimple Patches and their thematic carry cases. This movement has reached the suncare sector with Sun Patch’s playful creations. The brand has created reusable, waterproof and sweatproof peel-and-stick UPF+ silicone sunblock patches. Offering a range of colors including hot pink, neon yellow, and bright blue, and fun shapes such as stars and triangles, the patches are ideal for summer festivals and parties. The brand Vacation has also approached sunscreen in a fun way with its Classic Whip SPF30, a sunscreen inspired by whipped cream and housed in a red-and-white can reminiscent of Reddi-wip The can features a tilt valve actuator that produces texturally satisfying mountains of the lightweight mousse formula.

Inclusivity for Melanated Skin:

Finding sunscreen for melanated skin can be difficult, as many can leave a white cast.. A Consumer Reports survey found that 61% of African Americans and 23% of Latinos never wear sunscreen, and 84% of Black sunscreen users don’t feel there are enough choices on the market for their skin tones. A popular misconception is that melanin-rich skin doesn’t burn due to it possessing built-in SPF13, but this doesn’t mean sun damage can’t occur. The brand Black Girl Sunscreen has identified a gap in the market, creating sun protection products for dark skin that fight against sun damage, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines. Most recently the brand has teamed up with Disney for a Little Mermaid sunscreen collection inspired by the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel. Another recent launch, No Shade Sunscreen Oil SPF 30 by Melé, is designed with darker skin in mind and has a sheer oil formulation that is fast absorbing, leaving no residue or white cast.

“Skinification” of Suncare:

“Skinification” is the idea of using skincare ingredients in other categories such as haircare, nail care, or, in this case, suncare. Formulations begin to blur the lines between skincare products and suncare products. Hybrid products, such as tinted moisturizers with SPF, are becoming more popular as a means to use SPF 24/7. According to Instagram’s 2023 Trend Report, two out of three Gen Z survey respondents said they plan to buy skincare or beauty products that protect against the sun and extreme weather. Examples of this trend include Tower 28’s SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen, which contains broad-spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 30 and medium coverage available in 17 shades, and Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen With Niacinamide + Kalahari Melon, which acts as both a sunscreen and a moisturizer to smooth pores and wrinkles and reduce the appearance of dark spots.

Hair and Scalp Suncare:

Sunscreen for the scalp and hair is increasing in popularity. The scalp is just as susceptible to developing skin cancer as the skin but is often forgotten when applying SPF. Many find the application difficult, so brands have found innovative ways to protect the scalp without getting sunscreen in the hair.  There have been320 monthly searches for scalp powder in the past year. Supergoop! debuted its Mineral Part Powder, a non-greasy powdered SPF that remains undetectable on the scalp and hair. Scalp and hair SPF sprays have seen 580 monthly searches with brands like Sun Bum Scalp & Hair Mist SPF30 and Malibu SPF15 Clear Hair & Scalp Protector contributing to the growing trend.


14,000 tons of sunscreen are thought to be washed into the ocean each year, whether by swimming in the ocean or washing it off in the shower. Chemical filters like oxybenzone can disrupt coral’s reproduction and growth cycles, leading to bleaching. Some places such as Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and Palau have banned non-mineral sunscreens to protect the coral reefs. BeautyMatter reported in 2022 that the industry still needed to invest in further testing surrounding reef-safe sunscreen due to  products on the market labeling themselves as reef-safe when they are not. Reef-safe formulations are continuously being developed and tested so that the safest ingredients can be applied. In March 2023, researchers at China's Tsinghua University created a strategy for sunscreen that can block UV radiation that possess molecules  too big to penetrate skin, coral, or algae. The researchers created several polymer UV filters that they used on mice; the strongest polymer UV filter saw the mice treated with it neither absorb the water-soluble polymer through their skin nor suffered any inflammation. This prototype didn’t affect Chlorella algae, Acropora, and Palythoa coral, the latter two being the most common coral types.

The city of Eilat in Israel is focusing on improving the reef-safety movement, as it’s home to 13 kilometers of beach and is one of the world's most popular diving destinations. The popular tourist city has developed its own sunscreen, Reef Relief. The sunscreen is yet to be released to the public and is still undergoing trials and testing. It is being developed to not only protect but also nourish the region's Red Sea coral reefs. The formula contains nutrients used by coral farmers to help coral thrive. They have also put forward a new certification for sunscreens, RPF, which stands for Reef Protection Factor. The idea behind this is that brands will use the certification to prove their intentions toward coral safety.

The suncare sector's market size amounted to $8.5Bn in 2019 and is predicted to grow to reach over 10.7Bn in 2024. Brands encouraging consumers to follow scientists’ suggestions when it comes to wearing sunscreen throughout the summer benefits not only consumers' health but also the sales of businesses offering these SKUs. The creation of specifically driven products like scalp suncare powders and sprays encourages the use and purchase of multiple SPF, which could also lead to an increase in sales. Meanwhile, a focus on inclusivity expands the horizons of potential consumers. Eco-conscious innovations will appeal to an ever-growing environmentally aware customer base, as 64% of consumers report sustainability to be important when buying beauty-related products. Ultimately, there is a lot of room for businesses to expand their revenue when it comes to creating SPF-related products. Whether it’s fun suncare or scalp spray, the trend outlook for 2023 emphasizes safety and inclusion. After all, suncare isn’t just a beauty trend—it’s a necessity.


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