As with countless industries, suncare sales in the APAC region were seriously hit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Where consumers were physically less able to leave the house – due to lockdown restrictions in many countries – sun protection products were, unsurprisingly, in lower demand. Despite this ‘bump in the road’, the APAC suncare market has resumed its growth trajectory, and this is expected to continue over the next few years.
In 2023, industry revenue hit USD$ 3.9 billion1, with expectations that the market will grow by 5.9% CAGR over the next five years. In fact, the APAC region is dominating the global market, with growth being driven by several key factors; primarily, Asian consumers are becoming increasingly educated on the risks of extended sun and UV exposure – leading to greater spending in the market, and an evolution in the types of products being purchased.
In addition to preventing skin cancer and other health risks, suncare products help consumers to avoid sunburn, wrinkles, age spots, pigmentation issues and a whole host of other skin damage. Particularly in Asia, where skin whitening2 – though somewhat controversial – and anti-ageing3 continue to maintain popularity, products which include SPF and other sun protection agents are growing in demand. Though the functionality will vary from product to product – with some offering whitening or skin bleaching capabilities – preventing skin damage and maintaining an even complexion remain a constant throughout the category.
Similarly, the role of suncare is changing in the eyes of APAC consumers. Products in this category are becoming more of an everyday cosmetics item, which is driving the creation of new hybrid skincare suncare products. Asian consumers are looking for a streamlined experience, enabling them to stay protected by easily incorporating SPF into their daily routine.
These perceptible shifts in the sector are bringing suncare products to the forefront of Asian consumers’ cosmetics priorities. But what is driving these developments, and which ingredient formulators are leading the way in APAC suncare space?
The new face of suncare
Growth in the APAC suncare market is largely due to a collective shift in perception. Put simply, the way that consumers now use and view sun protection has changed. Sunscreen is no longer seen as a product to be used on the very hottest days of the year, or on holiday. Though some aspects of suncare may vary based on season-specific needs, a new generation of educated APAC consumers understands the importance of applying sun protection all year round.
The product itself has also developed hugely, to create a new, convenient experience for Asian consumers. Gone are the days of reapplying thick, greasy, substances. Instead, modern suncare products are designed to work for everyday life and in conjunction with other skincare and cosmetic products.
An educated consumer base
Increasing consumer awareness, environmental impacts, and critical health concerns are playing a pivotal role in the growth of the APAC suncare sector. For example, according to the International Monetary Fund(IMF)4, over the past three decades, temperatures across the APAC region have risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius – double the global average. Therefore, as Asian consumers become increasingly educated on the health risks of prolonged sun and UV exposure, including skin cancer, the demand for suncare products is growing exponentially.
But what’s keeping consumers informed? A steady movement has been brewing on social media as many dermatologists, health professionals, and beauty influencers have taken to their platforms to educate Asian consumers on best ingredients and practices. Leading the sun-savvy revolution with their glowing complexions are K-Beauty influencer Elisa Lee and Chinese content creator Amy Chang who are championing SPF as the cornerstone of their skincare routines. Anyone tuned into online skincare trends will have noticed a heavy emphasis on SPF, which is creating a more educated consumer-base and heavily contributing to market growth.
In South Asia, customers are frequently seeking a streamlined cosmetics experience which is giving rise to ‘hybrid’ skincare/suncare items. Following the example of trends in Korea and Japan, makeup products that include at least SPF 15+ UVA protection are increasingly becoming part of customers’ daily tool kits. In turn, more sun and skincare brands are offering dual products that act as sun protection and moisturisers, primers, BB creams and base makeup.
At this year’s in-cosmetics Asia, there will be a number of exhibitors showcasing their innovative suncare ingredients, including:
- SUZHOU SUNLAND PHARMATECH with Benzophenone-4
Soluble in water, this ingredient is a broad-spectrum sunscreen for UVA and UVB protection. The maximum absorption wavelength reaches 286nm and 318nm respectively with a maximum allowable concentration of 5%.
- SEIWA KASEI with Silasoma
This is an aqueous dispersion of silicone-resinated silk peptide microcapsules which contains UV absorbers. Its unique encapsulated structure provides a soft and silky experience and is clinically proven to react well to people with sensitive skin or severe skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis.
- JAKA Biotech with Biomenta BF
This is a fermentative active ingredient which targets at cell-level and UVA induced aging, rejuvenating the skin to a youthful state. It is a highly enriched, and sustainable ingredient which combines natural aging and photoaging, to verify the anti-aging effect with multiple targets.
- TriBeaute Inc. with Pineapple Ceramide
This pineapple extract is extracted from edible residue of pineapple fruit after juice production. It is purified and concentrated for glucosyl ceramides and pro-vitamin E/K. It acts as skin barrier restoration and inhibits dark spots after sun burn.
- Drop (Nanjing) Bio-Tech with DropCare Sal-Phytos (Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine）
Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine is a novel sphingolipid derivative with unique anti-aging properties, which is synthesized from sphingol and salicylic acid. It shows a number of features at different levels of skin that fights with aging. Due to its ceramide properties, it enhances the skin barrier by inducing lipid synthesis and keratinocyte differentiation which acts on the cuticle. In addition, phytosphingosine has anti-inflammatory effects, especially when it's working on photoaged skin.
- Berg + Schmidt Asia with BergaMuls ET2
BergaMuls ET2 is a plant-based emulsifier suitable for sustainable and natural cosmetic products. Sourced from oat, wood and guar gum, BergaMuls ET2 comprises water-soluble and insoluble components that support both emulsion stability and viscosity.