How Sunscreen is Made

How Sunscreen is Made

Do you know what makes up sunscreen? Most people don’t, and I used to be one of them. But after doing some research, I was surprised to learn just how much goes into making this seemingly simple product. In this post, I’ll share with you what I learned about the process of sunscreen manufacturing and some of the key ingredients used. So if you’re curious about how your sunscreen works (or how it might work), keep reading!

Sunscreen Myths

There are a lot of myths regarding sunscreen products; before going into how sunscreen products are made, let us first debunk the sunscreen myths;

Sunscreen Causes Skin Cancer

The fear that sunscreen causes cancer has no medical basis. There is a lot of evidence proving how UV rays from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin ageing and health problems such as premature wrinkles or age spots for those who have been heavily exposed to them throughout their lives. Still, many people worry about this because they think it might be absorbed into your body when you put on clothes after being outside in strong sunlight, which would give rise to a new problem. But alas! This isn’t possible since most chemicals nowadays don’t enter cells quickly enough, even if ingested orally.

You Only Need Sunscreen if You Have a Lighter Complexion

There’s a common misconception that people with dark skin don’t need to worry about sun damage. But the truth is, dark skin is just as susceptible to sun damage as any other skin type. That’s why it’s so important to protect yourself from the sun, no matter your skin tone.

SPF 50 doesn’t need to be Replaced Often

The sun’s UVA rays can damage your skin cells and cause inflammation. That is why it’s essential to protect yourself with SPF sunscreen, which will give you up to 2 hours of protection from these harmful radiations! No matter how strong the Sun protection factor of your sunscreen lotion is, make sure you still reapply every 2 hours.

Sun Screen is Not Necessary if it’s Cloudy

The best way to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV radiation on a cloudy day is just like how you would do so in clear weather. Apply sunscreen every few hours and avoid being too close when it isn’t sunny outside – especially if waves or other water activities are happening nearby! Even if it is not sunny, going out with unprotected skin is still not advisable.

How Sunscreen was Developed

Franz Greiter invented sunscreen in 1938, followed by Benjamin Green in 1944, who used a mixture of cocoa butter and red veterinarian petroleum to protect his skin from the sun. Soon after, Franz Greiter dubbed his concoction Piz Buin, while Mr. Green sold it as Coppertone Suntan Cream.

Over the years, sunscreen has changed, beginning as a cream with an SPF of 2. The first sunscreens were red, thick, and sticky, like petroleum jelly, a far cry from the modern, lightweight, moisturizing formulations. Sunscreen developed throughout the 1990s, bringing a variety of new compositions, including gels and sprays. A UVA rating was established, and factors 20 and 30 were introduced.

Sunscreen Ingredients and Raw Materials

Sunscreen is one way we protect ourselves from these damaging radiation waves emitted by the sun. The Therapeutic Goods Administration must approve both the active substances and the excipients.

Many combinations may go into making up a single sunscreen; this includes synthetic ingredients and natural ones depending on what you need it for – like protecting against skin cancer (SPF) or just being protected outdoors all day long. The most famous synthetic material used to protect your skin from UVA rays is avobenzone, or Parsol 1789. This chemical compound has been found in products worldwide because it’s effective at blocking harsh sunlight and preventing premature ageing caused by UV exposure!

Broad spectrum protection is made possible by benzophenone, oxybenzone, and the like ingredients. Ingredients like the formerly mentioned absorb UVA rays as sun protection. Titanium dioxide is a natural mineral that is often used in broad-spectrum sunscreens. Although not as opaque as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide has a whitening effect with higher SPF ratings and functions by dispersing UV radiation rather than absorbing it. Although it is not as opaque as zinc oxide, the higher SPF values provide a comparable whitening effect.

Titanium dioxide is frequently mixed with antioxidants to reduce oil oxidation and postpone the lotion’s degradation. Many contemporary sunscreens include skin calming and hydrating ingredients like aloe and chamomile.

Main Active Ingredients 10% to 30%

The substances indicated as active ingredients are most likely the crucial components of sunscreen. Our skin is shielded from the sun by these UV or sun filters. The majority of sunscreens combine many UV filters.

For Chemical Sunscreen Lotion

  • Avobenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Oxybenzone

For Physical Sunscreen Lotions

  • Titanium dioxide
  • Zinc oxide

Sunscreen Formulations Stabilizer 50% to 60%

Other additives in sunscreens assist the active compounds to stay in the solution and avoid going bad rather than obstructing the sun’s rays. The solvents in these components, often water, make up most of the mixture.

  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Tocopherol Acetate

Manufacturing Process

The company manufactures sunscreen products in a fully automated process that uses some of both approaches.

Making the Lotion

Reverse osmosis is a technique used to clean water. Reverse osmosis separates pure water molecules from salts and other contaminants by applying pressure to water and pushing it through a semipermeable membrane.

Purified water and ingredients are combined in accordance with the final formulation’s recipe after being obtained from outside vendors. The ingredients and precise measurements are listed on a vat sheet containing the formula.


The plastic sunscreen canisters are made at a blow molding plant. This is carried out occasionally outside of the business. Thermoplastics, or plastics that soften when heated and firm when cooled, are extruded into a tube known as a parison and inserted into an open mould using the blow moulding technique. The heated parison is placed into the closed mould, and the parison is compressed at the bottom to create a seal.

Moving the containers to a printing factory allows for printing and, in certain circumstances, stamping logos and product information onto the containers. Thin metal foil is stamped into the container’s surface and embossed in the desired shape, typically a logo. The containers with the printing or stamping are then kept in storage for later use.

How are they Tested?

Sunscreens are put through rigorous tests before they can hit store shelves. First, the product must be shown to work effectively against UVB rays in people’s skin. Then lab-based studies confirm its safety for use on sensitive areas like your eyes or nose without causing any adverse effects.

These individuals must represent a variety of skin tones, from those with abundant pigment to those with almost little pigment.

There’s a standardized way to apply sunscreen – two milligrams per square centimetre, irradiating the skin with solar simulators. These machines produce accurate doses of UVB light, which are shone through small ports as red dots so that you can see clearly defined borders without any blurriness or irregularity in shape at complete erythemal response levels before increasing your dose if necessary.

Next, the sunscreen moves onto in vitro (lab-based) trials. UVA is more harmful to skin than UVB because it penetrates deeper and can cause wrinkles with long-term use while not being as photosensitizing on its own.” So ethically, we don’t do this test on people but instead use plates or cells outside of bodies where there’s less risk for reactivity,” says Dr Fabrizio Spada, Scientific Affairs Manager at Sunsense. The product may claim a broad spectrum SPF rating with these tests passed.

What is SPF?

Sun protector function: SPF is a measurement of how much solar energy (sun’s ultraviolet rays) is needed to cause sunburn on skin that is shielded from the sun (i.e., while wearing sunscreen) in comparison to how much solar energy is required to cause sunburn on skin that is not protected from the sun. Sunburn prevention rises with the SPF number for sufficient UV protection.

The Byproducts

Plastic fragments cleaned up throughout the container moulding process are reground and applied to new moulds. Containers that contain errors in the printing process are sent to other businesses to make patio furniture, among other things


Sunscreen is essential to a healthy lifestyle, and we must know how it’s made to trust the ingredients. Sunscreens must undergo rigorous testing before hitting store shelves, and manufacturers adhere to strict guidelines. Even so, some people may still have adverse reactions to sunscreens. We hope this article provides a better understanding of how sunscreen is made and why it’s important to test products thoroughly before they’re released to the public.

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