Meet the team

Say ‘hello’ to DSM’s UV Task Force

Here to shine a light on the facts

With so much contradictory and scientifically unverified information surrounding us, it can be challenging to know what and who you can trust, and where to find trusted sources of knowledge. At the same time, consumers are becoming more proactive in seeking the truth.

The sun care market is no exception. Consumers are, happily, increasingly aware of the need for safe UV filters, as well as the impact their ingredients might have on the environment.

At DSM, we believe in empowering customers and consumers to make the best choices for them.

Our UV Task Force is on hand to share expertise, insights and transparent information about our beauty and personal care ingredients. They also open the space for facilitated discussions which encourage new ways of thinking and support shaping the future of the industry.

Get to know the team

Below, learn about the experts making up the UV Task Force. Discover insights about their work, passions, and mission within the sector. We’ll introduce you to one new team member every month, so be sure to keep checking back.

Dr. Jochen Klock, Senior Global Regulatory Manager

I am currently working on…

...ensuring the quality and safety of DSM´s UV-filter actives and being compliant with local regulations worldwide. This includes monitoring and interpretating changes in regulations globally. One example is the recent classification of Titanium Dioxide as a chemical substance and the consequent implication for its use in cosmetics in Europe. 

Another example is the most recent changes by the US FDA for sunscreen actives and requests for further data to recognize those actives as “Generally Regarded as Safe and Effective” (GRASE). In a worst-case scenario, this could have severe implications on sun protection options for US consumers.

One of my most important projects is to work on the approval of new sunscreen actives by the US FDA as GRASE, besides playing a key role in main trade associations and industry consortia in general. Working closely with many internal stakeholders from different regions and being a central point for regulatory topics internally and externally, for customers and peers at other suppliers, fulfills my function while also expanding the scope of my work.

Juggling all of these elements – keeping the business interest in mind without compromising on product safety for human health while respecting our environment – is part of my day-to-day work.

The aspect of my work that excites and inspires me the most is…

...photoprotection in the global world of suncare. Working on the approval of new UV-filter actives by defining the right strategy, proactively discussing upcoming challenges and bringing more clarity and transparency towards the use of UV-filters – internally and externally, as well as cross-functional and cross-regional – and finding a way to turn those challenges into opportunities, excites me and clearly enriches my job every day. 

The breakthrough I would most like to see made by DSM is… get the first new sunscreen active, such as PARSOL® Shield, approved by the US FDA after more than 20 years.

I am confident that some of the projects and initiatives I am involved in will lead to an increase in product quality and safety for human health as well as the environment, together with a positive business impact. Additionally, a more personal ambition and breakthrough is to move the regulatory function in DSM, with the right mindset and resilience, out of the corner and make it a strong business differentiator, which includes active involvment in shaping the future of the industry. Especially these days, when uncertaintity among many customers and consumers due to false and misleading information is growing, the role of regulatory can be crucial in facilitating the process of ensuring the safety of cosmetics through substantiated, science-based regulation. 

Based in:

Basel area, Switzerland

Christophe Vilain, Senior Sun Care Application and Customer Support Manager

I am currently working on…

…supporting our customers having the best performing UV-filter combination in their market products. This includes providing formulation recommendations across multple application areas. Furthermore I work closely with our marketing team to develop market-ready, on trend formulations based on consumer insight.

My role focuses on enabling customers achieve the desired SPF or UVA protection values as well as improve the sensory elements of their formulations by utilizing our very own sensory panel. These dedicated sensory experts provide descriptive and objective sensory data for all lotion types and other semi-solid formulations. After their evaluation, we give customers recommendations on how they can improve the sensory attributes of their product.

In addition, one of my main focus areas currently is to make sunscreen formulations more eco-friendly. Along with the newly implemented features in our DSM SUNSCREEN OPTIMIZER™ 2.0 I work closely with our customers to explore different/new UV-filter combinations that can deliver a truly improved eco-impact over their current formulations.

The aspect of my work that excites and inspires me the most is…

…working toward a common goal together with our customers: Developing appealing sunscreen formulations that consumer love to use and prevent them from skin cancer.

Although skin cancer is a preventable disease, rates have been increasing for decades. DSM aims to make sunscreens more effective and more appealing to use, which is essential because consumer studies consistently show that unpleasant sensory attributes are a key barrier to appropriate sunscreen use. Through our close collaboration with customers, we  offer consumers more pleasant sunscreen solutions – such as a trendy and fun texture or an overall improved sensory appearance – so they have more motivation to use sunscreens and stay safer under the sun.

By having this close exchange, we create a share and learn environment with two-way dialogue and learning – something I believe is quite valuable. In one example, we suggested improvements to the sensory features of a customers’ market formulation, which their own panel of experts preferred in a blind testing. They took this learning and used our formulation as a new development that went to market – a really proud moment for me and our team.

The breakthrough I would most like to see made by DSM is…

…to inspire the industry to develop more truly eco-friendly suncare products without compromising on the skin cancer prevention. The newly implemented Eco-score label one of the new features of DSM’s SUNSCREEN OPTIMIZER™ 2.0 would to visualize the eco-impact of a sunscreen product, and having this visible on market sunscreen would be an important milestone. These labels would also offer more trust and transparency towards consumers so they can be sure that the products they use for their own protection have no negative impact on the environment.

Of course, our mission at DSM is always to continue to protect people and the planet at the same time. We’ll keep working to raise awareness about the risk of skin cancer and to make formulations that people like to use because of their appealing textures and properties. Additionally, we can strive to improve the eco-profiling of sunscreens in order to protect the planet and work to embed this in our DNA.

Based in:

Basel area, Switzerland

Dr. Gernot Kunze, Senior Lead Scientist

I am currently working on…

Introducing our customers to the updated DSM SUNSCREEN OPTIMIZER™ 2.0 (DSO). We’ve added a new eco-profiling feature to our DSM SUNSCREEN OPTIMIZER™, which now also includes a benchmarking and classification method. With this simple add-on, formulators can focus on their primary expertise without having to search, read and interpret specialized documents on eco-toxicity. With this fact-based and transparent evaluation of UV-filters and the incorporation of market data to deliver benchmarks, experts such as formulators or other functions can see immediately how new formulations compare to existing marketed products of the same efficacy class. This approach saves time and expense by assessing the trade-off between eco-friendliness, cost and sensory factors (e.g. filter content, oil load) already at an in-silico project stage or during life-cycle management of an existing product.

We developed this tool for everyone to help empower our industry to do better together and to ease the tough job of formulators.

We are still in the launching phase, so I’m in close contact with key users in the industry to answer their questions and assist them in effectively using this tool. This exchange and feedback is also invaluable to us as we continue to build a share & learn environment within the industry. Due to the controversial and challenging perception of UV-filters in the public press, along with a great deal of misinformation about them, it’s really important to support customers and the business with thoughtful answers to their questions. Increasing skin cancer rates and environmental concerns about UV-filters are important topics to discuss in order to bring clarity and greater insight, and ultimately to regain trust.

The aspect of my work that excites and inspires me the most is …

Bringing more clarity to the complex world of UV-filters, which is especially needed because there are so many different facets to consider. For example, the overall sun exposure behavior of humans is quite diverse and can vary from one country to the next. Outdoor behavior among Brazilians differs massively from that of people in Spain or Korea. Some populations have certain preferences on protection efficacy, degree of tanning or the sensory texture of products. And the products themselves are diverse – from powders, lotions and gels to sprays and sticks – all of which can be achieved and influenced with the right combination of UV absorbers.

On top of all this, not all protective ingredients are approved everywhere, not all test methods are accepted globally, and sun protection products are regulated differently in different parts of the world, as they range from being considered cosmetics to pharmaceutical products.

What particularly inspires me is if I can help our customers, despite all of these complexities, to make easy ingredient selections that lead to a better future for their consumers and the environment.

The breakthrough I would most like to see made by DSM is …

That our DSM SUNSCREEN OPTIMIZER™ 2.0 becomes the go-to tool in the future for formulators when developing eco-friendly sunscreens with outstanding sensorial attributes. DSM and the entire industry must work together to set equal standards and leverage common tools that can be used to easily compare and develop sunscreens. That’s why our tool is available free of charge to all: so that everyone can take action to be more ecofriendly, and so that we can fulfill our collective duty to make people safer under the sun. We do this through education and by creating more appealing sunscreens that do not harm the environment – a key driver to regaining trust from consumers.

When we can achieve this ideal, the overall usage level of sun protection rises while the skin cancer rate drops. Realizing this is my biggest aspiration.

Based in:

Basel area, Switzerland

Michele Marchini, Senior Marketing Manager Photoprotection

I am currently working on…

.…establishing our DSM Sunscreen Optimizer™ (DSO) as the go-to-tool for formulators to understand just how eco-friendly their formulation is. This initiative is part of a broader scope to proactively address the current challenges in the sun care market with respect to contradictory, confusing information about UV filters. Customers and consumers are increasingly concerned with the environmental safety of UV filters, and as one of the industry leaders, we take this very seriously. Part of my work is screening the UV filter and Sun Protection FMCG markets, capturing all relevant data and facts and offering marketing concepts that are relevant for the consumer and align with current market trends.

The ideal UV filter combines the following four aspects: safety, skin cancer prevention, favors an appealing sensory profile and environmentally friendliness. We know that there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to sensory characteristics, to drive consumer awareness on the need to protect themselves against skin cancer, and to achieve a good eco-profile. Regarding eco-profiling, our aim is to be transparent without greenwashing, so we align closely with customers to provide first-hand support on the effectiveness of the DSO while sharing and learning from their experiences so that we can develop trusted, future fit skin protection.

It’s also crucial for us to remain agile in the development of new UV filters. We know that high UV filter concentrations might be at odds with delivering a good sensory profile (and therefore may prevent consumers from using sufficient sun protection). So, we’re working on new, high-performing UV filters that make it possible to use lower concentrations and contribute to a good eco-profile, in order to support our customers in finding the right balance in their market products. One recent success was the launch of PARSOL® Shield - a photostable, broad-spectrum filter which efficiently contributes to UVB and UVA protection across the full range of application forms at low concentrations.

The aspect of my work that excites and inspires me the most is…

…the opportunity to change people’s behavior when it comes to sun protection through education and thought leadership. Although this is a challenge that also takes time, I believe it gives my work a purpose which can improve people’s lives.

The sun care industry, and especially UV filters, is to a certain extent based on traditional products and concepts, but it is recently proving to be very dynamic, which we are observing now in the pandemic. Our industry is struggling. People are confined to their homes and travel restrictions force them to skip their holidays abroad. And many assume that, since they are not spending time at the beach, they do not need to apply sunscreen. But we all know that sunburn can happen wherever you are exposed to the sun without sufficient protection.

We observed this behavior when we conducted a survey about sun protection habits as part of our skin cancer prevention program. People often associate sun protection with going to the beach only, and do not see it as an integral part of their daily routine. This perception has to be turned around, as skin cancer rates are on the rise. Education is needed more than ever, alongside the development of convincing sun care formulations that people love to apply.

The breakthrough I would most like to see made by DSM is…

… to be seen as the supplier of UV filters in the industry that successfully combines tradition and innovation. We bring more than 40 years’ experience in producing, selecting and blending UV filters, including delivering on reliable, scientifically proven services which customers and consumers can put their full trust in. At the same time, I would like us to be seen as a forward-looking supplier, always pushing what’s possible and at the forefront of industry developments so we can keep our customers ahead of the curve. The journey has just started, but I truly want to empower and continue to bring out-of-the-box thinking to established science so we can deliver future-fit skin protection and expert guidance all stakeholders can trust.

Based in:

Basel area, Switzerland

Caroline Ploton, Global Marketing Manager, Photoprotection

I am currently working on…

...a project to assess the impact of UV filters on corals. Nowadays, consumers are becoming more aware of the need to protect their skin against sun damage. But when they apply a sun protection product, they don’t want this healthy habit to become a threat to the environment, and more specifically to the marine ecosystem.

Recent research publications, as well as government decisions such as the sunscreen ban in Hawaii, have drawn attention to the possible environmental risks of some UV filters, including their potential impact on coral reefs. This has created fear and emotional reactions among consumers. We believe such publications or decisions, for which there is little conclusive scientific evidence, contribute to the underuse of sunscreens at a consumer level, which is counterproductive in the fight against skin cancer. We need to balance human health and environmental protection.

Many scientific publications have shown that coral bleaching is mainly the result of climate change, global warming and the corresponding increase in the oceans’ temperature, pollution and overfishing. But we as DSM - as a sustainable and responsible company - wants to invest in reliable, substantiated science in order to conclude whether UV filters have an impact on the marine environment. The challenge is to test UV-filters in realistic conditions, with concentrations that would be present close to corals. We’d like to share real facts on this topic by collaborating with respected marine institutes or universities and believe that this would in turn bring peace of mind to customers and consumers by providing credible science to better shape the future of the industry – with both environmental and societal needs in mind.

The aspect of my work that excites and inspires me the most is…

…that sun protection is not only about cosmetic needs; it is about skin health. Being a pharmacist, I very much like the “medical” aspect of UV filters. They focus on health prevention: they’re meant to prevent skin cancer as well as skin aging. I am also very passionate about sustainability and protection of the environment. The challenge for me in regards to this project is to put both into perspective and to find the right balance. It should not be an either/or approach or a compromise – it should be a hand-in-hand approach.

The breakthrough I would most like to see made by DSM is…

…to come up with a methodology that will be established as the industry standard to measure the potential impact of UV-filters on corals, in collaboration with experts on this topic . Working as a team on such a topic, delivering relevant results for our customers and consumers, and developing market solutions that respect the environment and protect human skin is the ultimate goal to achieve. I am ready to take up this challenge!

Based in:

Basel area, Switzerland