SPF+, whitening and perfecting: L’Oréal publishes flurry of sunscreen patents

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

L'Oréal has published three separate patents on its sunscreen developments - covering high SPF, skin perfecting and whitening (Getty Images)
L'Oréal has published three separate patents on its sunscreen developments - covering high SPF, skin perfecting and whitening (Getty Images)

Related tags L'oréal Sunscreen Protection Spf Skin whitening Skin

International beauty major L’Oréal has developed advanced sunscreen formulations that provide increased protection, improved sensorial experience, enhanced appearance and skin whitening.

Writing in three separate international patents published last month, L’Oréal detailed the new sunscreen formulations: a light feel, stable high sun protection factor (SPF) variant; a skin perfecting and protecting double composition for layering; and a formula that simultaneously protected and whitened the skin.

Sunscreen sensations – higher SPF, better sensorial

Writing in its patent for the sunscreen with high SPF​, L’Oréal said developing stable and pleasant high SPF formulations remained a challenge for industry. Integration of oil-soluble or oil-like materials left the skin feeling greasy or sticky after application, it said, and filters tended to whiten the skin post-application. In addition, use of larger amounts of sunscreen filters within formulations required a greater amount of fillers to ensure good sensorial properties and pigments, which tended to leave the composition unstable.

“A stable sunscreen composition with high SPF is desired, associated with easy application, good spreadability, less white film, less shine, which does not melt at high temperatures on the face, has an imperceptible touch, gives the ideal balance between hydration and oil control, and combines high protection with smoothness to the skin,”​ L’Oréal wrote in its patent filing.

This had been achieved through developing a specific combination of at least one anionic surfactant (selected from inulin lauryl carbamate) and one non-ionic co-surfactant (selected from sodium N-stearoyl-N-methyl taurate), along with the UV filters and pigments, it said.

L’Oréal said the high SPF formulation provided “excellent sensorial performance as well as surprisingly high SPF values associated with a strong and robust stability of the composition over time”.

The SPF range was between 30 to 80, with UV filters representing as much as 50% by weight of total formulation and pigments as much as 15%. Additional ingredients, such as fragrances, preserving agents, actives, vitamins and fillers could also be integrated into the formula.

Perfecting and protecting the skin through layering

Writing in a separate patent about a method that provided SPF protection and simultaneously improved skin appearance​, L’Oréal said it targeted the appearance of wrinkles, eye bags, pores, and skin imperfections like scarring and dark spots – all part of photo-aging from ultraviolet (UV) radiation throughout a lifetime.

It had developed a method that layered a “skin perfecting composition”​ and a protective sunscreen formulation, it said, providing a “surprising improvement in SPF and UVA-PF [ultraviolet-A protection factor]”​ regardless of the order of application.

“In addition to boosting the SPF and UVA-PF, which provides full spectrum photo-protection to the skin, the methods provide an immediate and dramatic improvement to the appearance of skin,”​ L’Oréal wrote in the patent.

This, it said, was thanks to film-forming polymers, pressure sensitive adhesive polymers, and soft focus powder for a blurring effect contained in the skin perfecting composition. “Unlike other products, the films formed on the skin do not dry-out, whiten, crack, or peel. Instead, they remain flexible (elastic), durable and comfortable. Moreover, the compositions – and resulting films – hydrate and protect the underlying skin.”

L’Oréal said the layered compositions could be used anywhere on the skin but were “particularly useful for treating the skin of the face”​ – often exposed to sunlight.

Skin whitening sunscreen with antioxidants

Writing in another patent detailing a sun care composition for whitening the skin​, L’Oréal outlined a formulation that enabled simultaneous protection and skin whitening of the face that targeted pigmentation associated with ageing.

“Since human skin is exposed daily to solar UVA radiation, the use of harmless topical depigmenting substances having a good efficacy is particularly sought for whitening pigmented spots. However, the products available on the market either whiten the skin, or protect it from sun damaging – that is, from generating new dark areas. None of these products is capable of progressively whitening the skin, while also preventing the formation of new dark areas,”​ L’Oréal wrote in the filing.

The single formulation developed by L’Oréal, therefore, worked through a combination of a whitening system and UVA filter system.

“The sun care composition of the present invention not only whitens pre-existing melasmas/dark spots, having a progressively depigmentation effect due to its prolonged use, but also prevents the formation of new melasmas/dark spots on the skin.”

Its whitening system contained a combination of at least three different actives, it said, preferably the “powerful antioxidant”​ neohesperidin dihydrochalcone; the “cellular renovator”​ capryloyl salicylic acid; and dipotassium glycyrrhizate which prevented melanin from reaching the skin surface.

The formulation also ideally incorporated at least two antioxidants selected from at least one vitamin and at least one vegetal extract like ginger root extract, L’Oréal said.

The rise of functional sunscreens?

In 2018, an estimated one billion units of sun protection products were sold worldwide, generating revenues of around €11.6bn, according to market research firm Fact.MR. And in a report published last year, the firm suggested the market would surge at a CAGR of 7% over the next ten years​, driven by attributes beyond SPF, such as anti-ageing, anti-pollution and green.

“While protection remains at the heart of preferences, of both consumers and market players, it is highly likely that the sun protection products market will continue to witness innovations that revolve around the multiple facets of protective attributes of sun care products,”​ Fact.MR said.

Patent sources:

WIPO International Patent No. WO/2020/024023

Published on: February 6, 2020. Filed on: July 31, 2018.
Title: “Sunscreen composition, use of the sunscreen composition and process of manufacturing the sunscreen composition”
Inventor: L’Oréal – P.Trajano et al.

WIPO International Patent No. WO/2020/041391

Published on: February 27, 2020. Filed on: August 21, 2019.
Title: “Methods for protecting and improving the appearance of skin”
Inventor: L’Oréal – AJE. Farran et al.

WIPO International Patent No. WO/2020/024022

Published on: February 6, 2020. Filed on: July 31, 2018.
Title: “Sun care composition for whitening the skin, use of the sun care composition, and process of manufacture of the sun care composition”
Inventor: L’Oréal – P. Trajano et al.

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