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Pharm Res. 1999 Oct;16(10):1602-7.

Percutaneous absorption of sunscreens through micro-yucatan pig skin in vitro.

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  • 1Organon Inc., West Orange, New Jersey 07052, USA.



The objectives of this study were to develop an in vitro model for studying sunscreen permeation in skin, and evaluate the influence of formulation differences.


The sunscreens studied were two of the most widely used agents, octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) and benzophenone-3. Preparations containing radiolabeled actives were applied to micro-Yucatan pig skin dermatomed to a thickness of 250-300 microm as a finite dose in a flow-through diffusion system. At the end of each experiment the amounts removed by washing, retained inside stratum corneum (SC) and penetrated into receptor and viable skin were determined.


The two sunscreens reached a peak level in SC within an hour. Benzophenone-3 penetrated skin to a greater extent than OMC. The opposite was true when comparisons of SC retention were made. The ratio of retained to penetrated amount of sunscreens from a hydroalcoholic formulation at the end of 10 hours was higher when the sunscreens were present together than alone.


Despite the highly lipophilic nature of sunscreens, particularly OMC, SC is the rate limiting skin layer for penetration. Penetration and SC retention were formulation dependent. The ratio of SC content to the amount penetrated is a useful tool for evaluating sunscreen permeation.

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