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Optics of sunscreen lotions: Preliminary results on scattering and absorption coefficients

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posted on 2023-01-12, 15:33 authored by Gunnar A. Niklasson, Sara L. Niklasson, Celina Notfors, Junxin Wang, Maria Stromme, Cecilia Arhammar
Sunscreen lotions are used to protect the skin from damage due to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The active UV blocking components can be organic molecules or inorganic particles, for example TiO2. While both in vivo and in vitro methods exist for assessing the protective capacity of sunscreens, their basic optical properties have received little attention. In this paper we take the first steps to address this issue by presenting a method to obtain spectra of absorption and scattering coefficients of a sunscreen by analysis of experimental transmittance and reflectance spectra. We model the optical properties of the sunscreen by two flux theory, develop approximate expressions for interface reflection coefficients and obtain the remaining optical parameters by fitting the two-flux theory to measurements. We analyze spectrophotometric reflectance and transmittance spectra of experimental narrow band UV blocking materials based on mixtures of mesoporous magnesium carbonate and TiO2, as well as some commercial sunscreens. Our method is demonstrated in vitro using quartz substrates and is further used to model in vivo measurements on the upside of the hand of one of the authors. The obtained absorption and scattering coefficient spectra give information on the relative contributions of these processes to the UV blocking effect as well as the scattering of visible light responsible for the whitening of the skin upon application of a sunscreen lotion. Our analysis method may be useful for computational optimization of novel sunscreen formulations as well as for the development of in vivo test methods.



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