The Accuracy of SPF and other cosmetic claims


Element 44 Inc, Chicago, USA

Formulating effective sunscreens is one of the more difficult challenges a cosmetic scientist faces. Not only is it hard to get these products to feel non-greasy and be invisible on the skin, they also have to deliver a consistent SPF value to a wide variety of consumer skin types. While consumers can quickly notice whether a product delivers on aesthetic properties, it’s not as obvious if it delivers on the claimed SPF values. And it turns out, proving SPF values is more complicated than it seems.


Recently, there have been some “scandals” related to sunscreen testing of brands like Purito, Krave and other sunscreen brands. Basically, independent testing showed that the claimed SPF values for these brand’s products were not achieved. Understandably, this generated a significant amount of outrage on social media. But if consumers really knew how tenuous claims substantiation was in the cosmetic industry, they might not be so surprised. The discrepancy in SPF results just demonstrates the difference between an applied science like cosmetic chemistry and a basic science like chemistry. To understand those di ...