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Spectrophotometrics for SPF testing

Recent years have seen a host of new sun care products enter the sun protection (SPF) market. But how well do those with natural ingredients actually work to protect?

The company Botaneco (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) reports that it is studyng new approaches, mainly spectrophotometrics, to evaluate the SPF of products that include natural ingredients, such as oleosomes.

In a study last year in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, a spectrophotometric measurement of organic ultraviolet (UV) filters embeded within an all-natural safflower oleosome correlated with in vivo SPF testing. Investigators observed a high correlation of the technique for SPF 30 products.

The study compared the spectrophotometric observation to a 2-subject in vivo clinical measurement. The results were further validated by a follow-up 10-person in vivo SPF study.

The average value of the in vivo SPF test was SPF 31.98, whereas the spectrophotometric method provided an equivalent SPF average of 31.19.

“This demonstrates that the mean SPF values from the in vivo and spectrophotometric measurements are statistically identical, confirming the spectrophotometric method is reliable and comparable to in vivo SPF testing results,” says Soo In Yang, a research scientist at Botaneco, in a company press release.

The goal of the new testing method is to provide a simple, quick and more reliable in vitro test to verify the SPF of formulas containing organic UV filters and natural ingredients.

Botaneco notes that current in vitro SPF screening techniques are often less reliable than emerging assays like spectrophotometrics.

“Whatever assay is adopted in the laboratory must be reproducible with the US FDA in vivo protocol,” Yang says in the release.

Because natural ingredients often behave radically different in formulations than synthetic ingredients, they may adversely impact traditional testing standards and protocols.

“Certain types of testing may not accurately capture the intricate functionality of natural ingredients, like oilseeds that store oil in small encapsulation vehicles called oleosomes,” comments Botaneco marketing manager Kathy Mish in the same press release. “Alternative in vitro testing protocols, such as spectrophotometrics, illustrate the unique functionality that complex natural ingredients bring to personal care.”

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