Reliable and simple spectrophotometric determination of sun protection factor: A case study using organic UV filter-based sunscreen products

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Current in vitro SPF screening method for plant oil body (oleosome)-based SPF products possesses significant inconsistency and low reliability in the SPF rating.


The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the reliability and reproducibility of spectrophotometrically determined sun protection factor (SPF) from oleosome-based SPF products. The secondary objective was the data comparison of the spectrophotometric measurements against in vivo SPF testing to establish a reliable in vitro test method as a screening assay.


Octyl methoxycinnamate (UVB filter) and avobenzone (UVA filter) were loaded into safflower oil bodies and formulated into oil-in-water emulsion-based finished products. To evaluate the reliability between in vivo and spectrophotometric test methods, samples were dispatched to a clinical laboratory, and the reported SPF values were compared with spectrophotometric test results.


The observed SPF from the in vivo and spectrophotometric test results demonstrated a high correlation for SPF 30 products. Proportional correlation between the two evaluation methods was observed for SPF 15 and 50 products with slightly lesser accuracy with a smaller number of population tested in the clinical studies.


A reliable spectrophotometric screening method for oil body-based SPF formulas has been developed using two broadly used organic UV sunscreen actives as a case study. The results demonstrated a high level of reproducibility and reliability compared to the US FDA-guided in vivo SPF testing method.

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