The exciting world of UV filters

Responsible UV protection

UV filters play a crucial and well acknowledged role in skin cancer prevention. To accomplish this function they possess specific characteristics, and a portfolio of UV filters is needed to cover the full UV spectrum of sunlight. Furthermore, UV filters must meet high requirements to ensure safe and effective sunscreen products with a high level of acceptance among the population. On this page you find insights into the exciting world of UV filters and how BASF is contributing to sustainable sun protection.

Sunscreens for skin cancer prevention

Skin cancer incidences are growing and will continue to present a health issue due to high sun exposure in both outdoor recreational and occupational activities. UV filters in sunscreens reduce sun rays penetrating the skin by up to 97%, resulting in a lower risk of sunburn and developing skin cancer. This benefits the health and wellbeing of citizens and lowers costs for health systems, making UV filters an essential part of any skin cancer prevention strategy.
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UV filters in light of changing regulations

The Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability is a key element of the EU Green Deal. To achieve a toxic free Europe current chemical and related legislations like Cosmetic Products Regulation will be fundamentally overhauled with major implications not only for the chemical industry. As important product groups like UV filters in sunscreens, relevant for human health, might be impacted, a science-based approach without restricting substances relying on intrinsic properties only should be applied. Read more

EcoSun Pass for more sustainable sunscreens

The public discussion on environmental concerns of UV filters often focuses on single aspects, neglecting different ways a substance may have an effect on the environment. With the EcoSun Pass® BASF has developed a scientific tool to help sunscreen manufacturers optimize their products to minimize the environmental impact with a holistic approach. Up-to-date environmental data on all available UV filters, like biodegradation as well as aquatic, sediment and terrestric toxicity, are included. Read more

Requirements of UV filters and resulting properties

UV filters must absorb UV light, stay intact during sun exposure for being effective, colorless and non-reactive against skin or formulation ingredients. They should stay on the skin while sweating or bathing, thus they should not be water soluble. Overall, the desired features of UV filters needed for high UV protection lead to low bioavailability, low biodegradation and thus persistence. These properties are currently critically discussed within the EU Green Deal initiative. Read more

Safety assessment of cosmetic products

Prior to placing a cosmetic ingredient or product on the European market, a safety assessment has to be performed to ensure its safe use. It considers all available data for each single ingredient, from physico-chemical properties to toxicity information, and a detailed safety profile is established. This rigorous assessment considering different hazard classes is the “gold standard” worldwide for protecting citizens from potentially negative effects of cosmetic products. Read more

Skin penetration and UV filters - nano is big

Sunscreens are designed to stay on top of the skin to enable UV filters to work efficiently. Skin penetration of UV filters is not desired and is considered during their development. The principle is easy:  the larger the molecule and the lower its polarity, the lower the dermal penetration. It may sound surprising but in this context nano-sized UV filter molecules are the biggest ones. They are not able to penetrate the skin.  Read more

Why one UV filter is not enough

To effectively protect the skin from exposure to sun light and thus from skin cancer and sun burn, a comprehensive portfolio of different UV filters is required as each one covers only a specific range of wavelengths of UV radiation. Sunscreens are formulated with a suitable selection of UV filters to achieve the desired SPF and properties like water resistance and the desired skin feel. 
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Misconceptions about UV filters

UV filters are named in different ways: natural, mineral, chemical, physical, organic, etc. While we can divide them into organic and inorganic ones, all UV filters are chemicals, protect us through the same mechanisms – absorption and reflection – and must be safe for use. We clear up common misconceptions about the different types of UV filters. Read more