Despite hundreds of sunscreens being launched each year, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in actual sunscreens doing the heavy lifting. No new UVA filter (eg: titanium dioxide or avobenzone) has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since the 1990s. Pavise, a biotechnology company run by a biomedical engineer, aims to get the best SPF within these constraints, while also creating new filters that, if approved, could completely change the sunscreen landscape.
“Sunscreen in the US is a controlled drug — it’s an over-the-counter drug,” says Sophie Pai, biomedical engineer and founder and CEO of Pavise. That’s why you haven’t seen so much innovation in 20 years. Everything uses the same filters, just different combinations. Personal care should be regulated as medicine because the skin is the largest organ in the body. Our goal at Pavise is to fully realize pharmaceutical research and development [to cosmetics] To provide high quality care in the skin care category.”
Pavise started making particles to treat eczema and acne, but put those on the back burner in late 2020 to focus on mineral filters. This switch began when the FDA released findings that chemical filters are absorbed into the bloodstream more easily than mineral filters and that more research is needed to determine whether or not this affects safety. On the cautious side, Bai wanted to create the best mineral sunscreens so customers could feel comfortable with a mineral formula they actually enjoy using.
“The mineral filters leave a horrible white cast to me, to people of color,” says Bay. “I don’t think people of color should sacrifice getting good care, and skin care is healthy care. Plus, if we’re breastfeeding, pregnant, or have a young child, we can’t use chemical filters. That’s why we immediately started working on clear mineral filters.
Pavise launched this spring with four products: Dynamic Age Defense SPF ($148), Lip Defense SPF ($58), Gentle Amino Powerwash ($64), and UV Camera ($176). Dynamic Age Defense and Lip Defense both use refining Pavise mineral filters.
“Our technology really creates a different shape and composition of the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide particles,” says Pai. “So we’re working with the starting point of what the FDA has approved, but we’re changing their chemical properties — without changing the fact that it’s still zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — to get better UV absorption.”
Dynamic Age Protection SPF
I’ve tried a lot of mineral sunscreens, and this one from Pavise is among the best. It’s SPF 30 and it goes white, but with some rubbing, it completely disappears into my skin.
“Dynamic Defense is translucent across all skin tones,” says Bay. “This is something I’m very proud of because this is an example of where science can create a fairer world.”
Plus, the formula is rich in antioxidants, allowing it to repair while protecting minerals. “Our photoprotective cocktail is six compounds that work together synergistically to repair photodamage from UV rays on a daily basis,” says Bay. “We actually went through a library of 10,000 compounds that have clinical evidence to be synergistic with photoprotection along with UVB filters and narrowed it down to these six compounds.”
SPF lip protection
This SPF lip gloss is one of my favorites. It comes in three beautiful, neutral shades, and each adds a nice, thick, yet sheer layer of shimmery color while offering SPF 30 protection.
“I made the SPF for the lips because I actually have a condition called venous lake,” says Bay. It is a non-cancerous growth that appears as a bluish-black dot on the lips caused by the accumulation of UV damage. “It usually happens to people 50 and older, and the fact that I got it when I was 26 shows how much UV damage I have received.”
The three shades — 604 (a semi-transparent pink), 616 (a semi-transparent mauve), and 774 (a semi-transparent pinkish brown) — are pigmented with iron oxides, the same ingredient that adds color to tinted SPFs.
“We don’t have any synthetic dyes that are commonly used in lipsticks, eye shadows, or blushes,” says Bay. “For us, claiming safety for daily use is very important from a drug development perspective. And we’re all drug researchers at my company. So we have higher standards in terms of what safety means to us.”
Gentle amino lotion
This cleanser just won Well + Good SPF award to The ultimate in luxurious sunscreen removal cleanser. It proved its worth over and over again during the testing process, as i used it to clean my face among the dozens of sunscreens i tried. It left my skin clean without feeling stripped.
“We found out that a lot of the cleansers on the market don’t remove sunscreen even though they claim to remove makeup,” says Bay. “Sunscreen is often more difficult to remove than tinted makeup due to the film-formers in sunscreen products.” So Pavise created a cleanser that can remove any SPF sunscreen (including waterproof) in one wash.
To ensure that you 1) don’t miss a spot when applying sunscreen and 2) remove all EOD sunscreen, you can use this camera. It attaches to the bottom of your iPhone, turning the camera into a UV camera so you can see where your SPF is or not. We just gave it Innovation Award during our SPF Awards.
“When you apply sunscreen, the camera helps you see if you applied sunscreen uniformly or if you have any missing spots,” says Bay. “A lot of times, you’re going to really miss the nose strip and the under-eye area. And a lot of people say, ‘Oh, I’m wearing sunscreen every day, why do I still have skin cancer in my nose?'” “Because you’ve never actually applied sunscreen to your nose, you’d think you did. So this tool really helps you make sure you’re fully protected and can tell you when you need to reapply when you’re sweating. Plus, it can show if the cleanser is effective in terms of removing sunscreen.”
What will come of Pavese
Although Pavise has found a way to innovate with existing UV filters, it is also developing new ones and seeking FDA approval. It takes millions of dollars to get FDA approval. The process for obtaining FDA approval typically involves multiple stages, including preclinical studies, clinical trials (Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III), and extensive documentation to demonstrate product safety and efficacy. The costs involved can include research and development expenses, hiring investigators and staff for clinical trials, manufacturing the product on a large scale, paying for regulatory consultants, and covering administrative fees associated with the FDA review process.
But Paves has cobbled investors into his corner in hopes of making that happen, and a new batch of products he thinks deserve approval. “We have four new classes of extra-large filters that mean very large chemical UV filters that we just developed in the lab that can create an SPF of 1,000,” says Pai. No, this is not an SPF typo one thousand. “This will really change the way we think about sun care. We are committed to investing and going through the FDA drug approval process together to get UVA approval in this country.”
This process will take some time, but even if it doesn’t bear fruit, we should still expect to see more cutting-edge innovations from Pavise.
“We’re constantly working to improve existing formulas or come up with new molecules as the science evolves,” says Pai. “We never feel stagnant. It’s never going to be, ‘This is the formula 10 years later.'” “We want to always bring the latest and greatest in there.”
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