Thinking of making a sunscreen. Am I mad?

Hi guys, hope you are all well.  I want to add a zinc oxide sunscreen to my skincare range but I have heard that it can be problematic.  Apparently it can all clump together and destabilise the product?  This is the formula I want to use and I would be grateful for some advice.  Many thanks, Gaby.

Purified Aqua
Zinc Oxide
Behenyl Alcohol
Jojoba Seed Oil
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
Glycerol Monolaurate
Glyceryl Stearate Citrate
Glyceryl Stearate
Hydroxyethyl Cellulose


  • Terrible idea. Sunscreens are the most complicated personal care products to make. You need a lot of knowledge, experience, equipment and money to make one that works. Testing alone would take 10k. Your formula won’t work for multiple reasons: you don’t have uvb coverage, zinc oxide is utterly difficult to disperce, it’s oil in water so it will cause ph elevation, you don’t have film formers and dispersing agents. Also depending on the country it might be classified as drug which means 10k might not be enough to get approval to sell it.
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    it's much easier to do it as an anhydrous product; this removes many of the complicating factors present in emulsions
    a number of manufacturers make hydrophobically coated zinc oxide specifically designed for sunscreens, which is relatively easy to disperse
    but yes, it will be very expensive to test
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • GabyDGabyD Member
    Wow.  And there's me thinking I could just bung some Zinc Oxide in a cream base and call it a sunscreen, ha ha!  Thanks for your honesty guys.
  • It’s these one for zinc

    get basf simulator and you will see how difficult it is to get any decent coverage without adding 20% of powders. Although that simulator isn’t perfect science either.
  • GabyDGabyD Member
    I found this list of ingredients.  What do we think?  Could this have potential?  I would need to find a replacement for the Beeswax, though.

    candelilla wax
    aloe barbadensis extract
    d-alpha tocopheryl acetate (gmo-free vitamin e)
    grapeseed oil
    safflower oil
    sesame oil
    shea butter
    Active ingredient: zinc oxide (250mg/g)
  • It doesn’t even have an emulsifier and a proper preservative. Zinc oxide doesn’t give sufficient UVB coverage. Register for BASF simulator and try to achieve SPF 30 with zinc oxide alone. Chemists with years of experience struggle with sunscreens.
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    I would look into the sunscreen regulations for your country first before you even start thinking about formulas. As others have mentioned it can be a very expensive process.
  • GabyDGabyD Member
    Chemists with years of experience struggle with sunscreens.
    OK, I need to let this one go, I think.  Again, thanks for your honesty.  I tend to oversimplify things so it's good to have this resource for a reality check, ha ha!
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @GabyD - experimentation with most cosmetics is fine. Usually, bad experiments will just leave your hair or skin feeling bad. No significant harm. But something like sunscreen where a bad experiment can result in sunburns or worse is not a good place to tinker. ;)
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