Sun protection, a constantly evolving approach to research

To meet the public health challenge

Focus on Our Expertise on Skin

At L'Oréal, science is at the heart of innovation. Everyday, more than 4,000 people work in our Research & Innovation centers around the world to provide the most safe and efficient answers to customers needs. Dive into our cutting edge scientific discoveries and foresights around skin.

With solar (UV) rays causing 2 to 3 million new cases of skin cancer every year, protection from the sun is more than ever a public health issue. It is why we at L’Oréal are working every day not only to develop our products, but also to spread awareness about the dangers of exposure to the sun.

In a survey carried out by Yougov in 2019, only 2 out of 5 people said they protected themselves when out in the sun. Yet it is a danger that goes beyond a case of sunburn. As damage to skin by the sun’s rays is wide-ranging in nature, a sun-block needs to protect people against both UVA and UVB rays. UVBs carry more energy and affect the surface of the skin, causing sunburn in the short term and skins cancers, including melanomas, in the longer term. The UVAs have less energy but penetrate deeper, to the sub-cutaneous layers, causing the premature ageing of the skin and contributing to the increased incidence of skin cancer. And 95% of the sun’s rays are UVAs!


Innovate, for better protection

In 1935, Eugène Schueller, our Group’s founder, was already aware of the importance of being protected from the sun. He developed the iconic Ambre Solaire at a time when the first paid holidays for employees were being introduced. His product was a world first. A high-quality sun filter, with an odor that was easily recognizable and a pleasant feel to the touch… the same criteria that guide our Research and Innovation teams today. “The challenge is to encourage consumers to protect themselves, whatever their situation in life, by applying products that are pleasant to use,” explains Nathalie Jager-Lezer, International Director of Photoprotection Innovation at L’Oréal Research & Innovation.

For optimal protection, solar filters are essential. As part of an emulsion, their molecules prevent sunburn, cutaneous ageing and the development of marks and cancers on the skin’s surface. There are two types: mineral filters, which basically reflect the UVB rays, and the organic ones, which absorb both UVA and UVB rays. “It’s vital to cater for both, to provide the widest possible coverage of the spectrum,” says Martin Josso, head of the photoprotection projects group within L’Oréal Research & Innovation.

When it comes to the sun, research never stops. Our aim is to keep improving sun protection, on the one hand by discovering and patenting new filters, and on the other by refining the formulation or presentation of our products. Whether in mist or spray form, the objective is to ensure an even, lasting and pleasant distribution of the product on the skin to provide optimal protection.

Recreating sun rays and reconstructing the skin: Innovations that help our skin

To support our innovation programs for sun protection, we have equipped ourselves with leading-edge technologies that add to our expertise.

To understand and to test our products, our Research & Innovation teams are particularly working with solar simulators. These are able to recreate the sun’s effects and its UV emissions in very precise locations on the planet, according to the time of day or period of the year. Such technology enables us to develop and market products that are equally effective in France as they would be in countries like Sweden, Chile or Senegal. 


Find out more about our solar simulators:

We also use ‘reconstructed skin’ technology to assess the impact of exposure to UV rays on the very heart of human cells. These tissues, which behave just like skin and reproduce the same composition (cutaneous and sub-cutaneous), are developed from living cells that are cultivated in the laboratory. This technology is essential for measuring the damaging effects of UV rays on the human body.

Our aim is to offer you the very best in sun protection by harnessing technological and cosmetic innovation, together with the pleasure of use.

To find out more about the design and composition of our sun products, have a look at the videos of our researchers:
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