How Are Sunscreens Made?

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How are sunscreens made

If you run a skincare or cosmetics business, including a sunscreen offering in your product range could be a smart move—but before you venture blindly into the world of sun protection, you most likely want to get a better understanding about how sunscreens are made.

In this article, we’ll look at the key steps involved in making sunscreen so you can make an informed decision about whether sunscreen manufacturing is something you want to investigate further.

The Sunscreen Manufacturing Process

The sunscreen manufacturing process comprises four key stages:

  • formulation development
  • product testing
  • packaging procurement, and
  • production.

Read on for more detail about what’s involved in each of these stages.

  1. Formulation development

The sunscreen manufacturing process starts by developing the product formulation. To do this, chemists and lab technicians work together to develop a sunscreen formulation that will meet certain requirements.

Each type of sunscreen will contain a different combination of ingredients such as emollients and lubricants, emulsifying and thickening agents, preservatives, perfume and UV protection agents. The combination of these will affect the sunscreen’s performance, how pleasant it is to use, its level of water resistance and how suitable it is for use on sensitive skin.

A key difference between various sunscreens is in the way the sunscreens work to block ultraviolet (UV) rays. 

Sunscreens will typically be either chemical- or mineral-based. While mineral sunscreens work by creating a physical barrier on the skin’s surface that prevents the absorption of UV rays, chemical sunscreens work to absorb UV radiation before it can be absorbed by the skin.

Mineral sunscreens typically contain zinc oxide and can be either aqueous (containing water) or non-aqueous  (doesn’t contain water, also known as nature derived sunscreens), whereas chemical sunscreens often include ingredients such as octyl salicylate, octocrylene and homosalate.

Broad spectrum formulations provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays. 

  1. Product testing

Once an appropriate sunscreen formulation has been developed, batches of the formulation will need to undergo testing to ensure it is safe, effective and of an appropriate quality for use before it can be approved for sale in Australia. 

This includes:

  • undertaking stability testing to verify the safety and shelf life of the sunscreen
  • ensuring the sunscreen adequately meets its claims relating to water resistance, if required, and
  • conducting SPF and broad spectrum testing to ensure the sunscreen agents meet the specified SPF rating.
  1. Packaging procurement

Before the sunscreen can be manufactured, suitable packaging will also need to be sourced. Sunscreen is typically sold in plastic bottles which have been heated and moulded to the appropriate size and shape, before the product logo and labelling is printed on or affixed to the packaging.

In Australia, any sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) greater than 15 needs to meet the legal requirements to be sold as a therapeutic good. This includes meeting specific labelling requirements relating to the listing of ingredients, its broad spectrum and SPF rating and appropriate usage instructions.

  1. Production

Sunscreens which are to be sold in Australia must be manufactured in a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved manufacturing facility. 

Sunscreen is typically manufactured by combining the ingredients (which could be in flake, powder or solid form) in mixing vessels using professional-grade mixing equipment which allows for optimal product quality and consistency.

The manufacturing process will change slightly depending on the type of sunscreen. Non-aqueous mineral (natural) sunscreens are produced by combining the mixture of ingredients (generally waxes and oils) in a single phase, whereas aqueous and chemical sunscreens are manufactured by mixing ingredients in separate phases before they are combined to produce the final product.

Once manufacturing is complete, the sunscreen is filled into the final packaging and packed for shipping.

Looking for a Sunscreen Manufacturer? Partner with Wild Child

At Wild Child, we understand the importance of creating safe and effective sunscreen products that stand up to harsh Australian conditions. 

With extensive expertise in both chemical and mineral-based sunscreens, you can rest assured knowing your products will be manufactured to the highest quality standards using only TGA approved ingredients. Our team can provide support throughout the entire production process – from product formulation through to testing and packaging – to ensure your product is market-ready in the shortest possible time.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help turn your vision for a sunscreen product to reality!