Mineral filters in sunscreen products--comparison of the efficacy of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide by in vitro method

Pharmazie. 2008 Jan;63(1):58-60.


European legislation currently authorizes 26 sun filters among which, there is only one mineral filter: titanium dioxide. In the United States, two mineral filters are authorized: titanium dioxide in a maximum dose of 25% and zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is authorized in Europe, but its concentration level is not limited. A large number of commercial products are containing one of these mineral filters. The difference between these products lies in the percentage of the active substance, the way they are incorporated into the final product and the size of the primary particles. Depending on the ingredient used, there is a large variation in efficacy. The efficacy of the products tested was determined by an in vitro method using a spectrophotometer equipped with an integration sphere. Titanium dioxide was thus seen to be much more effective than zinc oxide; indeed no commercial form of zinc oxide tested can give a sun protection factor (SPF) higher than 10 at its maximum dose of use, unlike titanium dioxide which in its coated form (coated with alumina and with stearic acid, amongst others) gives a SPF of 38. This study has also allowed us to dispel the theory that talc--a raw material which has been used empirically for years in foundation in the belief that it has photoprotective effects--has an effect against sun rays. Talc proved to be particularly ineffective, as when it is used at a level of 25%, it only gives a totally negligible SPF of one unit.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Minerals / chemistry
  • Minerals / pharmacology*
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Sunscreening Agents / chemistry
  • Sunscreening Agents / pharmacology*
  • Talc
  • Titanium / chemistry
  • Titanium / pharmacology*
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Zinc Oxide / chemistry
  • Zinc Oxide / pharmacology*


  • Minerals
  • Sunscreening Agents
  • Talc
  • titanium dioxide
  • Titanium
  • Zinc Oxide