UV filters in facial care

The best sun protection product is the one you will actually wear

As we have discussed previously, globally, consumers do not use sufficient sun protection. Our study, which gathered data from 5,600 respondents across 8 countries, showed that on average only 38% of people across the world use sun protection daily1.

One reason for this is a prevailing perception that sun protection is only necessary when you want to avoid sunburn. However, although UV filters do protect the skin from sunburn, they also deliver a wide range of additional skincare benefits and should be applied as part of an everyday care routine. DSM aims to help raise awareness of these wider skincare benefits of UV filters. To this aim, we will provide here an overview of five facial care benefits associated with UV filters that people may not be aware of.

Surveys do show that consumers are concerned about sun exposure though, with 90% found to be very concerned, particularly about sun exposure on their face2. This suggests that there must be a second reason to explain why daily use of UV protection is so low. We acknowledge that consumers can be reluctant to apply sunscreens if they perceive the sensory experience to be unpleasant, or if application becomes an additional errand in their busy lives. In agreement, it has been shown that 77% of people prefer skincare with added SPF because it can be more easily incorporated into their routines, and 78% are willing to pay more for products containing SPF2.

In response to this consumer demand, DSM seeks to help skincare developers and manufacturers to incorporate UV filters into a wider range of daily facial care products that are convenient and pleasant for consumers to use – to achieve quality sun protection products that consumers actually wear. These products must deliver multiple benefits, appealing formats and textures, and an outstanding sensory experience.

To aid development of facial care products with SPF, DSM can provide optimized ingredients that achieve excellent UV protection while maintaining a desirable sensory experience; technical support regarding recommendations and formulation; and marketing claims supported by strong scientific evidence. In this blog, we will also include examples of products where we have supported development in this way.

UV filters in facial care – the benefits beyond sunburn protection

Although UV filters protect skin from sunburn, they also deliver a range of additional skincare benefits. To increase awareness of these benefits, we have reviewed scientific studies that investigate the role of UV filters in five key areas: prevention of photoaging and hyperpigmentation, protection from blue light, reduction of skin cancer risk, and support for immune function.

These additional benefits create an exciting opportunity for the facial care industry – by incorporating UV filters into the products that consumers will use every day, we can deliver multiple benefits while also meeting demand for user-friendly UV protection.


Many people are concerned that sun exposure can have an aging effect on facial skin3, and this is frequently cited as a key reason for regular use of facial SPF products4 his is a justified concern, as UV light is the major environmental factor to cause premature aging and even low doses of UV radiation are known to be capable of damaging the skin5.

As is well understood, at high intensity levels (‘erythemal dosages’), UV radiation can lead to immediately perceptible damage, such as sunburn. However, lower levels of UV radiation (‘sub-erythemal dosages’) can also cause damage that, while not always immediately noticeable, can accumulate and lead to the events of photoaging.

Studies into the effects of sub-erythemal UV radiation on human skin have shown that daily application of broad-spectrum sunscreens attenuates skin aging in healthy adults by preventing UV-induced skin damage5,6.


Pigmentary disorders are the eleventh most common condition seen by dermatologists7. There are three main types of hyperpigmentation, all of which are caused or can be exacerbated by UV and visible light exposure: age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Dark spots are the second greatest facial skincare concern among consumers, following wrinkles8.

Clinical evidence from a collection of studies indicates that regular use of sunscreen can either support the prevention or the treatment of pigmentation disorders7.

Blue light

Blue light penetrates deeper into the skin than UV rays, and studies have shown that it can induce even more intense and persistent hyperpigmentation than UVA9. This leads to mottled pigmentation – another visible sign of photoaging. Blue light has also been shown to increase reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, pro-inflammatory cytokines (such as interleukin 6), and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which induce collagen breakdown10,11,12.

Our scientists have found that an SPF 30 sunscreen comprised of broad-spectrum filters can protect against blue light-induced hyperpigmentation in vivo12.

Skin cancer

Globally, there are 1.5 million new cases of skin cancer recorded every year13. UV exposure is a known cause of skin cancer and, as consumer understanding has improved, this has become one of the main drivers of sunscreen use4.

The carcinogenesis process begins in skin when DNA is damaged by UV radiation, predominantly UVB (290–320 nm)14. If unrepaired, such DNA damage may lead to mutations and skin cancer.

We studied the impact of repeated sub-erythemal UV radiation on levels of DNA damage in skin with and without application of sunscreen and found that UV filters may be effective in preventing skin cancer5.

Immune function

There are many types of immune cells in the skin with different functions, including the Langerhans cells in the epidermis. Langerhans cells help to control skin immunity by recognizing pathogens and initiating specific immune responses. These cells are known to be sensitive to UV and stress and decrease in number as we age, potentially impacting skin barrier immunity15.

Having found that low doses of UV radiation serve to deplete the Langerhans cells, we evaluated the impact of sunscreen use on the cells5. We found that it almost completely prevented time-dependent depletion of Langerhans cells, affording significant protection, and thus supporting the skin’s immune function.

DSM is here to help – how to develop facial care products with SPF

Any product that consumers apply to their skin has the potential to incorporate SPF protection. Example applications might include facial moisturizers, anti-aging solutions, and color cosmetics, such as foundations.

With our broad product and support offer, DSM is here to help. We can provide the best-suited ingredients to help you achieve the desired SPF protection in your product, while maintaining a great sensory experience. This includes making recommendations for ingredients with attributes key to your needs. We can also provide technical support regarding product formulation, and ready-to-use marketing claims that are supported by strong scientific evidence.

To illustrate the support that we can provide for product attributes and in guiding formulation, we have worked in partnership with Glowing Chameleon to develop products such as Aqua Lush Moisturizing Sun Dew, SPF 50, and Silken Cloud Facial Whip, SPF 30.

Aqua Lush

Aqua Lush is formulated to prevent photoaging and maintain skin health. In particular, the formula has been developed to prevent wrinkles, protect skin elasticity, and prevent dark spots by incorporating PARSOL® 1789 at 3.5% to protect against UVA. Combining this with PARSOL® 340 (8%), PARSOL® EHS (5%), PARSOL® SLX (3%), PARSOL® Shield (2%) and PARSOL® HS (2%), it also provides outstanding UVB protection to prevent sunburn.

It delivers a unique sensory experience with a watery afterfeel without additional oil load and silky touch by combining PARSOL® HS (2%) and VALVANCE® Touch 210 (1%). Together these ingredients deliver a refreshing, clean, and silky feel that is not greasy or oily.

Finally, Aqua Lush also aids in hydrating the skin by incorporating HYA-ACT™ XS (0.08%) to provide intense hydration and prevent water loss.

Silken Cloud

Similar to Aqua Lush, Silken Cloud is also formulated to prevent photoaging and maintain skin health. To prevent wrinkles, protect skin elasticity and prevent dark spots, Silken Cloud again incorporates PARSOL® 1789 (3.5%) to ensure adequate UVA protection. To prevent sunburn, PARSOL® EHT (2.5%), PARSOL® EHS (5%) and PARSOL® 340 (3%) are combined to protect against UVB.

The products differ considerably though in their texture and sensorial properties. Silken Cloud has a unique silky touch and whip texture for a pleasant consumer experience. This is achieved using VALVANCE® Touch 210 (2%), which provides a lightweight feel.

Finally, Silken Cloud is also specially designed to improve skin hydration. PENTAVITIN® (1%) enables deep hydration to the skin and D-Panthenol 75 L (1%) improves hydration and maintains skin softness and elasticity.

Amy Huang
Rolf Schuetz 

Published on 14 November 2022


1.      DSM. Sun Survey 2018.

2.      The Benchmarking Company Beauty By The Number, Here Comes the Sun Survey 2021.

3.      Mintel. Attitudes Towards Anti-Aging Products – China – June 2019.

4.      DSM. Consumer Survey 2020.

5.      Young et al. The Detrimental Effects of Daily Sub-Erythemal Exposure on Human Skin In Vivo Can Be Prevented by a Daily-Care Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen. Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2007) 127, 975–978.

6.      Hughes et al. Sunscreen and Prevention of Skin aging: A randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2013; 158:781-790.

7.      Fatima et al. The role of sunscreen in melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Indian J Dermatol. 2020. 65(1):5-10.

8.      DSM. Consumer survey 2021.

9.      Mahmoud BH et al. Impact of Long-Wavelength UVA and Visible Light on Melanocompetent Skin. J Invest Dermatol. 2010; 30(8):2092–2097.

10.  Mendrok-Edinger et al. Into the blue. 2018; Cosmetics & Toiletries, 133(1), 13-29.

11.  Campiche et al. Pigmentation effects of blue light irradiation on skin and how to protect against them. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2020; Jun; 42(4):399-406.

12.  Schütz R. et al. Blue Light Induced Hyperpigmentation in Skin and How to Prevent it. SOFW Journal 2019; 7/8, 12-17.

13.  Sung et al. Global cancer statistics 2020: CA Cancer J Clin 2021; 0:1-41.

14.  Melnikova and Ananthaswamy. Cellular and molecular events leading to the development of skin cancer. Mutat Res. 2005 Apr 1; 571(1-2):91-106. Doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2004.11.015.

15.  Chambers and Vukmanovic-Stjic. Skin barrier immunity and ageing. 2019; Immunology, 160(2):116-125.

Formulations featured