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Published July 19, 2017
Published July 19, 2017

As consumers become more well versed in wellness, we’re seeing a behavior shift from reactive beauty to proactive beauty, which bodes well for the sun care category. For years sun care companies have beat the drum that sun protection is not a seasonal but a daily use product. Finally, consumer behavior is catching up as they become more focused on prevention rather than repairing damage or signs of aging.

With that in mind we caught up with Angela Bennett, GM of La Roche-Posay USA, to talk sun care innovation and consumer behavior. La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios sunscreen range is recommended by dermatologists globally and a leader in advanced UVA formulation research and innovation.

What has been the brand’s biggest technological breakthrough when it comes to sun protection? That is almost like a trick question because as soon as we launch one technological breakthrough we are on to the next one in order to maintain the brand’s position as a worldwide leader in photoprotection. However, one of the first breakthroughs came in 2006 when Anthelios SX with Mexoryl was approved as an NDA (new drug application) by the FDA, meaning it has limited commercial use in the United States until the day should come when the FDA approves it as a new sun filter. It is to date the only sunscreen available in the USA with proprietary Mexoryl SX, a filter widely used in Europe and known to peak in short UVA protection, where other available sun filters show a gap.

The FDA has not approved a new filter in about 30 years, so rather than wait and hope, the team developed a new technology, Cell-Ox Shield, which has currently approved filters with antioxidants to protect skin from free radicals, not just UV rays. These formulas contain a patented combination of filters with stabilized Avobenzone, a widely used and powerful UVA filter that is usually known to be highly unstable. There have been a number of innovations in more recent years in the way of elegant, lightweight textures, and the Cell-Ox technology runs through all of them. It is this same technology that is in the Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk formula, which was independently tested and featured as a top-rated sunscreen in Consumer Reports Annual Sunscreen Guide for the past three years.

What advancements have been made to the formulas to further increase sun-safe behaviors? Throughout the years, we have introduced new face and body sunscreens with innovative textures and formulas to answer a wider variety of needs. For those consumers who prefer physical sunscreens over chemical, we launched Anthelios 50 Mineral and Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted with Cell-Ox Shield to our sunscreen range. These sunscreens combine a 100% mineral protection with antioxidants in a non-whitening texture. Other sunscreen offerings include a lotion-spray, a cooling water lotion, and most recently a children’s sunscreen called Anthelios Dermo-Kids.

In order to meet the needs of those with oily skin, we introduced a new face sunscreen last year called Anthelios Clear Skin 60, which expanded our reach to younger consumers and is suitable for acne-prone skin. During early development, we conducted research on men and women, ages 15-24 years old, and we found out a majority of these consumers did not wear sunscreen because they find sunscreen greasy and don’t like the oily/shiny look it leaves on skin. Clear Skin 60 was specifically developed to feel lightweight, be non-greasy, help absorb oil, and not cause breakouts.

We also encourage consumers to use SPF year-round, not just in the summer. In order to do so, we launched the award-winning Anthelios 50 Daily Anti-Aging Primer. A high-SPF daily sunscreen combining sun filters with antioxidants in a primer texture that provides a blurring effect on skin. Following this, we brought the first 2-1 daily anti-oxidant serum with SPF to the market, called Anthelios AOX.

How else does the brand use technology to prevent skin cancer? We pride ourselves on ensuring that we create breakthroughs in sun protection that aren’t just limited to sunscreen. The brand has launched an educational public service announcement SOS Save Our Skin that has been viewed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Most recently, we launched My UV Patch, a connected health technology that allows wearers to use a sun-smart sticker and a companion app that provides real-time UV exposure information as well as tips and guidelines on how to improve your personal sun safety exposure. Users indicated a positive change in behavior in three key areas: 63% experienced fewer sunburns, 37% increased use of facial sunscreen, and 31% made a better effort to seek shade during peak hours (10am – 2pm).

A global survey La Roche-Posay ran in partnership with IPSOS in 2015 showed that although 85% of Americans say they are aware of the risk of sun exposure, only 1 in 4 use sunscreen outside of their holidays. The ability to use connected technology is and will remain critical for people to make positive changes in their sun-safe habits.

"We pride ourselves on ensuring that we create breakthroughs in sun protection that aren’t just limited to sunscreen."
By Angela Bennett

How do you see technology continuing to help increase sun-safe behaviors in 5 years’ time? Continuing to increase sun-safe behaviors will require technology, awareness, and education—we try to incorporate all three in every product launch and consumer program. For instance, the launch of Anthelios DermoKids sunscreen this year was tied to a 2.0 version of My UV Patch that included kid-friendly elements to the app, and an updated Skinchecker campaign that shows a kitten checking out “suspicious” spots on a Dalmatian to show how easy it is to look for irregular moles on those you love.

Technology moves so quickly—who would have thought five years ago that we could have a small sticker that could tell us our UV exposure and risk in real time today? We believe innovations in connected health technology, the increased use of digital platforms to explore and share health information (specifically sun safety information), and advances in—and new FDA approvals of—sun filters. This will be critically important to a society that is able to live longer, who want to remain looking their visible best for as long as possible, and who will share a vision to eradicate skin cancer from the growing epidemic that it is today.

Is sun protection still a seasonal category or have consumer sun behaviors really changed to daily use product? We have seen a number of changes in behavior that are reflected in the sales of some of our products that indicate behaviors are changing, but not enough. For instance, to help consumers differentiate between our products that are solely a sunscreen versus a daily product that also includes sunscreen, such as Anthelios SX Daily SPF15 Moisturizer and Anthelios AOX SPF50 Daily Antioxidant Serum, we use an orange box for the La Roche-Posay logo on the sunscreen packaging and a blue box for our daily products with sunscreen. We strive to make all of our formulations ones that people will want to wear every day, and we do extensive preference testing with these formulas to ensure that they feel elegant on skin, while providing the sun protection efficacy that dermatologists and consumers demand.


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