Regarding the outdoor behavior of the Caucasian population, modern sunscreens should provide high and broad-spectrum ultraviolet protection in the ultraviolet B as well as in the ultraviolet A range and should be photochemically stable for ultraviolet doses, which can be expected in solar radiation. At present an assessment of the photostability of suncare products is not a general requirement before marketing.
In order to evaluate the photostability of suncare products we conducted an in vitro test and measured the spectral absorbance of 16 sunscreens before, and after exposure to increasing biologically weighted standard erythema doses (5, 12.5, 25, 50) of solar-simulated radiation. Seven of 16 suncare products showed a significant dose- and wavelength-dependent decrease of the ultraviolet A protective capacity, whereas the ability to absorb ultraviolet B was not affected.
In the ultraviolet A range, the decrease of absorbance (photoinactivation), respectively, the increase of transmission was 12–48% for an ultraviolet exposure of 25 standard erythema dose. Photoinactivation started in the wavelength range between 320 and 335 nm with a maximum above 350 nm. Furthermore, our analysis showed that the behavior of suncare products was not predictable from its individual ingredients. Neither complex combinations of organic filters nor addition of inorganic filters could absolutely prevent photoinactivation. The inclusion of a single photounstable filter did not mean photoinstability of the complete suncare product. Photoinactivation of sunscreens appears to be an underestimated hazard to the skin, first, by formation of free radicals, second, by increased ultraviolet A transmission.
Maier, H., Hönigsmann, H., Schauberger, G. and Brunnhofer, K., 2001. Change of ultraviolet absorbance of sunscreens by exposure to solar-simulated radiation. Journal of investigative dermatology, 117(2), pp.256-262.
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