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Skin Penetration and Sun Protection Factor of Ultra-Violet Filters from Two Vehicles


Purpose. In order to improve our knowledge on the efficacy and safety of sunscreen products, we measured the skin penetration profiles of ultra-violet (UV) filters in vitro and in vivo, and the corresponding sun protection factors (SPF) from two vehicles (an O/W emulsion-gel and petroleum jelly).

Methods. The UV filters tested were oxybenzone (5%, A), 2-ethylhexyl 4-methoxycinnamate (7.5%, B), and 2-ethylhexylsalicylate (3%, C). Two mg/cm2 were applied for 2 min to 6 h. In vitro penetration measurements were performed with static diffusion cells. In vivo, horny layer concentrations were measured after stripping and the SPF evaluated as recommended by the COLIPA-guidelines.

Results. Significant differences between vehicles were noticed in vitro as well as in vivo. In vitro, the emulsion-gel generated higher epidermal concentrations than petroleum jelly. Values at 6 h, expressed as percent of the applied dose for A, B, and C were 4, 9, and 7% for the emulsion-gel and 2, 1, and 2% for petroleum jelly. An opposite trend was noticed, mainly for A, in the deeper skin layers with concentrations of 2% in the dermis and 5% in the receptor fluid for petroleum jelly and 0.6% and 1% for the emulsion-gel respectively. In vivo, for each UV filter, maximal stratum corneum levels (15 strips) were obtained at 0.5 h with percentages of the applied doses of 50% for the emulsion-gel and 15% for petroleum jelly. SPFs, measured 0.5 h after application amounted to 14 for the emulsion-gel and 5 for petroleum jelly, and decreased in both cases by a factor 2.2 after removal of non penetrated product.

Conclusions. These preliminary results demonstrated that UV filters penetration and retention as well as expected SPF could be optimized by a suitable vehicle.

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Treffel, P., Gabard, B. Skin Penetration and Sun Protection Factor of Ultra-Violet Filters from Two Vehicles. Pharm Res 13, 770–774 (1996).

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  • sunscreen
  • UV filter
  • human skin
  • percutaneous absorption
  • stratum corneum