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Sunscreen really works, new research shows. But is natural better?

Sunscreen really works, new research shows. But is natural better?

Sunscreen really works, new research shows. But is natural better?  Unless you’re a dermatologist (or a sunscreen manufacturer), you’ve likely regarded the advice to wear sunscreen every single day as overly cautious. Even as an editor regularly covering the sun care category, I’ve found myself opting into hypocrisy more than once—recommending to our readers that they wear sunscreen every single day, yet secretly wondering if I really need to wear sunscreen every single day even here in Colorado, a state that gets 300 days of sunshine per year.

But, what initially seemed to be less-than-groundbreaking new research (sunscreen works, wow) proves the importance of regular sunscreen application, year round, and has some serious implications both for consumers wanting to prevent photoaging, as well as for the sun care industry—and in particular the natural category.

The research

The first human study of its kind (most similar studies have been conducted on animals), the research published this week in The Annals of Internal Medicine actually looked at 900 white people between the ages of 25 and 55 living in Australia. The findings showed that wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 daily for four years slowed and even prevented the development of wrinkles and sagging skin caused by UV rays. Nine-hundred study participants also took beta carotene supplements, which, unlike the regular sunscreen application, did not prevent skin aging.

Without a doubt, this research will trigger a boost in sun care sales, and not just this time of year when we always thought we needed it most. Although the research did not address mineral versus chemical options, I also think that the natural sun care segment, which has experienced very strong 12 percent growth over the past year, will see an even greater boost in sales as a result.

Parents are prioritizing both sun care and natural options for their kids, meaning that they’ll be even more focused on effective nontoxic mineral sunscreens as they increase the frequency of sunscreen use on those kiddos. More use equals more exposure to potential carcinogens and irritants found in many chemical sunscreens.

            Read about oxybenzone’s link to endometriosis. 

Plus, more women will be choosing skin care products that incorporate SPFs as a way to get daily sun protection, while moisturizing and preventing common signs of aging such as sun spots and wrinkles. Natural skin care was once again the biggest dollar contributor to natural and organic personal care sales in 2012, bringing in $3.7 billion, as we reported in this year’s Natural Foods Merchandiser Market Overview; it only makes sense, then, that this number will continue to grow as more of these products start to incorporate SPFs, and that this research will both increase sales and innovation in the antiaging skin care category.

Want to know more about trends in the natural sun care industry> This month I’ll be discussing these and more opportunities for the natural sun care market at HBA Global’s session: Shedding Light on Natural Sunscreens.


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