The COLIPA in vitro UVA method: a standard and reproducible measure of sunscreen UVA protection

Int J Cosmet Sci. 2010 Feb;32(1):35-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2009.00542.x.


There is a continuing need to measure and communicate reliably the UVA protection offered by commercial sunscreens. To that end, the COLIPA (European Cosmetics Trade Association) 'In Vitro Sun Protection Methods' group has developed a new in vitro method for measuring UVA protection in a standardized, reproducible manner. The method is based on in vitro UV substrate spectrophotometry and convolution of resulting absorbance data with the action spectrum for the in vivo Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) endpoint to provide an in vitro UVA protection factor (UVAPF) which is correlated with an in vivo measure. This method has been published as a COLIPA guideline, used currently in European geographies for testing and labelling sunscreen products. This article summarizes two 'ring' studies, involving eight separate testing laboratories, which both defined critical parameters for the method and validated it. In Ring Study 1, eight laboratories tested the in vitro UV transmission of a total of 24 sunscreens and, from the data, a unit dose of UVA (D(0) of 1.2 J cm(-2)) was defined to provide a single irradiation step which, by taking into account potential sunscreen photo-instability, gave the closest agreement with in vivo UVAPF values. In Ring Study 2, eight laboratories tested the in vitro UV transmission of a total of 13 sunscreens using this single irradiation step and established a very good correlation (r(2) = 0.83; slope = 0.84, P < 0.0001) between resulting in vitro UVAPF values and corresponding values derived from the in vivo PPD method. This new method, therefore, can be used to provide a reliable in vitro metric to describe and label UVA efficacy in sunscreen products, in line with the EU Commission recommendation 2006/247/EC.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • European Union
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet / methods
  • Sunscreening Agents / pharmacology*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Sunscreening Agents