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Sunscreen Technology, Regulations and Formulations

By Ken Klein
Posted: March 21, 2007, from the April 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 3 of 5

Typical Sunscreen Emulsion

“Water” phase
Water     QS*–100
Thickener    0.2–1.5
Chelating agent   0.1–0.2
Humectant    1.5–5.0
Water-soluble sunscreen  Drug level

“Oil” phase
Organic sunscreen (UVA/UVB) Drug level
Inorganic sunscreen   Drug level
Film former    1.5–3.0
Emulsifier    0.5–3.0
Emollient ester   5.0–10.0
Silicone (cyclic or dimethicone) 2.0–5.0
Secondary emulsifier   0.25–1.0
Dispersing agent (for inorganic) 0.1–0.2

Preservative    QS
Fragrance    QS
Color     QS

*QS is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase Quantum sufficiat, which means “quantity sufficient.” In other words, the formulator can add the specific ingredient “as needed” for a specific effect (fragrance, color, etc.) or until the desired total volume of the formula is reached.


  • Articles recognized in the official United States Pharmacopeia, official Homeopathic Pharmacopeia or official National Formulary, or any supplement of them.
  • Articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, or treatment of disease in man or other animals.
  • Articles, other than food, intended to affect the structure or function of the body of man or other animals.
  • Articles, intended for use as a component of any items specified in the prior stipulations.