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Slip! Slop! Slap!- The evolution of SPF

Slip! Slop! Slap!- The evolution of SPF

It’s no secret (or surprise) that the approach to SPF has dramatically changed in the last decade; a new attitude has been adopted by brands and consumers alike, concerning competitive price points, advanced formulations, inclusivity and environmental considerations, to name a few. Gone are the days of heavy, sticky, clogging formulas that leave a white patchy cast on the surface of the skin, (calling all you ‘90’s babes: flashbacks to your mum spraying you in the face with a blue sun cream that smelt synonymous with Summer holidays and left you… the loveliest shade of ✨turquoise! ✨); the whole notion encapsulated aptly by the ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’ tagline that underpinned the prominent sun care campaign in Australia and New Zealand in the ‘80s – the onomatopoeic language perfectly representing the SPFs that swamped the market. Now however, a new and exciting space has opened up, welcoming a whole host of agile and adaptive SPF brands onto the block, disrupting the game and making (heat)waves with competitive formulas, designed to complement the busy lives of the ever-evolving modern man and woman, for the beach and beyond.

Whilst working in Beauty PR and directly with SPF brands, it’s become clear that beauty lovers, particularly Gen-Z and Millennials, understand the need for daily SPF protection, preferably in easy-to-use and aesthetic formats (this notion has only been solidified through conversations with my own peers and friends). Perhaps this understanding comes from the wealth of information on the internet and it’s ever growing accessibility, making it difficult to ignore the importance of daily application; one simple click and you’re faced with an expanding list of new product recommendations, quizzes on how to choose the right formula for you (the old chemical vs. mineral debate), supported by educational features explaining how to apply SPF and how not to apply (Gwynnie<https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gwyneth-paltrow-suncream-b1825442.html>, we’re looking at you b!).

The growing conversation around SPF has snowballed to illuminate several varied, relevant and important issues: the impact of sun damage on our health, the need for inclusive products that serve all skin tones and types, eco-conscious SPF choices and ingredient transparency, see ya Oxybenzone and Octinoxate!

Ultimately, your SPF is now expected to go above and beyond, merging the gap between sun care and skincare – the new hybrid product that can do it all. It’s natural then that with this increased demand a wealth of exciting innovations have been birthed, by some of the larger key players (to be expected), but also by smaller indie brands that have stormed the space – cc: Hello Sunday<https://www.instagram.com/hellosundayspf/?hl=en>.

Think SPF powders, scalp protectors, SPF serums and drops, and invisible formats that make reapplication a breeze, pretty impressive when you consider the strides made in just a few years.

Cult Aussie sun care and tanning brand, Bondi Sands commissioned research earlier this year to better understand attitudes surrounding SPF in the UK, the survey revealed that only 1 in 6 Brits are actually using SPF in their daily skincare routine*. I would have predicted slightly higher, perhaps as I wear SPF daily and am in an echo chamber of evergreen SPF narratives; always in the loop with new launches/new innovations, primarily due to my role in Beauty PR but also reinforced through the media I engage with on a personal level. Yet this stat highlights a very real misconception – that you only need to wear SPF when directly exposed to the sun, despite the evolving and growing evidence to support everyday SPF wear, shared by health professionals, SPF brands and estheticians alike. It’s not shocking then that this attitude prevails far and wide, particularly in the older generation, given the historic lack of education, resources and accessibility to SPF, and how this has shifted dramatically in recent years.
So…what’s the trajectory looking like? Taking into account recent launches and consumer attitudes, I expect we will see new and exciting SPF products joining the market every season with more sophisticated formats and formulas that compliment all skin tones and types, featuring eco-conscious ingredients at an accessible price point; supported by continued education and advancing approaches to SPF usage. I’d say on the whole, the forecast is looking bright! ☀️

*The research was conducted by Censuswide, with a sample of 2,023 nationally representative respondents aged 16+ in the UK with a top up of 19 respondents in Northern Ireland between 14.05.2021 – 17.05.2021. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.


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