Eastman Chemical says its AQ 38S, previously used for insect repellents, has proved successful in providing comprehensive water resistance combined with cost savings for the next generation of sunscreens.
The development comes off the back of extensive research by the company to improve the efficacy of waterproof ingredients for sunscreens.
Researchers first started to look at AQ 38S for this purpose as it was known to be an extremely water soluble polymer. Although this seems like a contradiction in terms, the company claims that it actually makes for a vast enhancement in waterproofing capabilities.
"In fact, because of its low rate of dispersion, it is very effective," said James McCaulley, global market development manager for Eastman Chemicals, speaking to CosmeticsDesign.com. "This goes a long way towards greater resistance."
McCaulley also points out that the polymer benefits from enhanced film-formation properties, another essential characteristics that enables a longer-lasting and more even skin coverage under all types of conditions.
The advance comes in response to increasing awareness of the dangers of sun exposures, consumers are demanding increasingly effective and functional sunscreens that can stand up to a range of environmental conditions.
Amongst these conditions, sunscreens have to stand up to frequent dips in the sea or pool, sweat and sand, leading consumers to demand sunscreens products that will stand up to such conditions, thus avoiding having to re-apply products too frequently.
McCaulley says that extensive in vivo an in vitro on the polymer proved it was significantly more effective than other leading water-proofing agents currently on the market.
Whereas many sunscreens lose up to 40 per cent of their efficacy after being immersed in water, the company claims that its tests showed that AQ 38S remained just as effective after being immersed in water.
"These results lay a solid foundation for the development of extremely effective, next-generation sunscreens," said McCaulley. "Formulating with Eastman AQ 38S contributes to uniform film coverage with increased water resistance for extended SPF protection."
Another advantage is the low dosage that is necessary to obtain the improved levels of water resistency. McCaulley points out that a 1 per cent dosing is all that is required, as opposed to a 2 per cent for standard water resistant polymers.
This not only simplifies formulation, it also makes it less expensive to produce.
But that is not the only area where potential cost savings might exist. Because the polymer is added to the water phase, emulsifier usage can also be reduced, leading to lower cost formulations as well as a less oily feel to the sunscreen.
"Both the prototype lotion and milk-lotion spray formulated with Eastman AQ38S have a noticeably non-greasy feel, an important product attribute for brand owners in this market," added McCaulley.
"Often formulators have to make the choice between a lower price formulation or a higher priced formulation with greater water resistance. Because of this it is likely to be included in all sunscreen market segments, from mass market through to the premium."
Likewise the company is also hoping to later extend the product into other market segments where water resistance is an important issue, including color cosmetics and hair care.
For the moment Eastman says it is working with most major sunscreen producers worldwide and that, to this end, the company is expecting the ingredient could appear in finished products by summer 2008 in the northern hemisphere.