L’Oréal files patent on tinted sunscreen for dark skin phototypes

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

According to L'Oréal, tinted high-coverage sunscreens for dark skin types are limited and those on the market have sensorial drawbacks [Getty Images]
According to L'Oréal, tinted high-coverage sunscreens for dark skin types are limited and those on the market have sensorial drawbacks [Getty Images]

Related tags L'oréal Sunscreen Sun care Spf Uva protection Uvb black beauty phototypes Skin care Patent

International beauty major L’Oréal has developed a tinted cosmetic sunscreen formulation with UVA and UVB protection suitable for dark phototypes five and six, plugging an important market gap, it says.

Writing in its international patent​, L’Oréal said it had used a combination of pigments to create a stable tinted cosmetic composition that offered SPF and UVA/UVB protection for dark skin shades, more specifically skin phototypes 5 and 6 on the Fitzpatrick scale. The composition could be used to develop water-in-oil and oil-in-water emulsions, it said.

A ‘makeup effect’ for diverse skin tones

Providing UV protection with a makeup effect for diverse skin tones, L’Oréal said, was an important advance in the sun care market that aligned with evolving consumer demands for multi-benefit products.

“Widely used to protect skin from damages caused by the sun, un-tinted cosmetic compositions with UV filters, particularly cosmetic sunscreen compositions, are a big part of the market,” ​L’Oréal wrote in its patent filing.

“Due to the big demand for multi-benefits products, bringing different benefits in the same product, the consumers are always looking for products that provide high UV protection with a makeup effect and medium to high coverage and fit with diverse skin tones and subtones,”​ it said. 

Fitzpatrick Phototyping Scale

  • Type I (scores 0–6) always burns, never tans (palest; freckles)
  • Type II (scores 7–13) usually burns, tans minimally (light colored but darker than fair)
  • Type III (scores 14–20) sometimes mild burn, tans uniformly (golden honey or olive)
  • Type IV (scores 21–27) burns minimally, always tans well (moderate brown)
  • Type V (scores 28–34) very rarely burns, tans very easily (dark brown)
  • Type VI (scores 35–36) never burns (deeply pigmented dark brown to darkest brown)

However, existing tinted sunscreen products were limited for darker skin tones and had “drawbacks”,​ the company said. “Regarding tinted cosmetic sunscreen compositions directed for skin phototypes 5 and 6, the consumers who identify with these prototypes usually notice that the state-of-the-art compositions leave the skin looking ashy (greyish colour on the skin after the product is applied).” ​And this “white cast”​ left on the skin, it said, was particularly noticeable in photos, “even in broad day light”.

“These negative effects are commonly associated with the presence of pigment titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide in the composition. Hence, there is a need for [a] stable cosmetic composition for providing dark colour shades adapted for skin phototypes 5 and 6 without compromising desirable sunscreen benefits neither the satisfactory sensorial perception, that is also capable of attracting the makeup consumer to the sun care market,”​ L’Oréal wrote.

‘Specific and narrow’ combination of pigments

The current invention used a “specific and narrow combination” ​of yellow, black and red iron oxides to provide an “intense and dark colour”​ in the formula, L’Oréal said – all of which could either be coated or uncoated. And integration of these iron oxides could be anywhere between 5-20% by weight of the final product, it said.

According to the patent, the formula contained at least one UV filter – selected from oil-soluble organic sunscreen ingredients or water-soluble options – and could also incorporate additional ingredients, such as active compounds, perfume, preserving agents and vitamins, amongst others. And whilst pigment titanium dioxide had been avoided, as this ingredient was typically associated with discolouration on dark skin, it could be used as a UV filter.

Earlier this year, following ten years of research, L’Oréal unveiled a new filtration tech for protection against ultra-long UVA rays​ – UVMune 400 – that, importantly, worked to protect all skin types and phototypes. The move marked what the beauty major described as a “big leap in sun care”,​ with two formats of La Roche-Posay Anthelios sun care products launching in March 2022 with the technology.


WIPO International Patent No. WO/2022/160021
Published: August 4, 2022. Filed: January 29, 2021.
Title: “Cosmetic composition for providing dark colour shades, use of a cosmetic composition for providing dark colour shades and processes for manufacturing a cosmetic composition for providing dark colour shades”
Inventors: L’Oréal – P. Neves Pitta et al.

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