Interview with Gernot Kunze, Senior Lead Scientist Science and Promotion Sun Care at DSM

Gernot Kunze

We published your article „New Method for Connecting Sunscreens with Consumers via a Relative Eco-score“ in SOFW journal November 2021. Now the SOFW award jury has chosen your article for third place. Congratulations!

Why did you develop this new method of connecting consumers with sunscreens?

Currently sun protection products, and especially the UV filters as the active ingredients, are in the spotlight –media articles, research publications as well as authority decisions have drawn the attention to a potential impact on consumer health and with a strong focus on the environment. This can easily generate confusion for consumers and could lead to a behavior to avoid - or further lower - the use of sunscreens and could become an opposing trend to fight skin cancer. Consumer in front of the shelves wants to make the right choice, but where to get reliable and easy to understand information from? They are simply overwhelmed - especially when it comes to capturing and understanding scientific background information – same can happen also to formulators developing sun protection products. Our tool translates scientific and authority approved information and uses a market comparison into an easy-to-understand logo to guide and support especially the end-consumers.

How do you accomplish this easy-to-comprehend information?

Our tool is based on three steps. First: An UV filter evaluation based on existing credible data (like OECD tests), delivering an individual impact value. As several filters are combined in a product to deliver the efficacy claims, secondly these values are combined and weighted with the used concentrations. This derived Impact value is then compared as a third step with the respective market products of the same protection level and can thus be classified as a relative value for the sunscreen and not limited to an individual filter for its maximum allowed use level. 

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To work with the tool, the user - e.g., a formulator – just needs to select the desired UV filters and the desired concentration and immediately receives the result including the eco classification. The end customer does not have to worry about any of this - because the logo alone delivers information about how the product compares to possible alternatives regarding the environmental impact of the UV filters used.

What are the criteria for eco-friendly sunscreens?

We currently use 7 different assessment criteria’s. In addition to the physical and chemical properties of the substance, these include data of biodegradation, bioaccumulation and toxicity assessments in the aquatic environment, e.g., toxicity to fish, invertebrates or algae. The system is regularly updated if new information is available or new tests have been established.

Where is this new eco label used already?

The first success story is with a global dermo-pharmaceutical company using it on its sunscreen brand. Since the recent launch of our DSM Sunscreen Optimizer 2.0 with Eco Profiling, we received already several company request showing interest in the DSM ECO label. Therefore, more to come!

Download SOFW Journal Award Edition 2022 with all winning articles >>

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