Effect of preparation and processing conditions on UV absorbing properties of hydroxyapatite-Fe2O3 sunscreen

M. A. C. Teixeira, C. Piccirillo*, D. M. Tobaldi, R. C. Pullar, J. A. Labrincha, M. O. Ferreira, P. M. L. Castro, M. M. E. Pintado

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


The development of innovative, safe and non-photocatalytic sunscreens is urgently needed, as it is essential to have sunscreen filters offering appropriate UV protection without damaging the environment and/or generating free radicals when in contact with the skin. Hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2, HAp) when substituted with iron has UV protection properties and is not photocatalytic; HAp was used to make a sunscreen filter by treating cod fish bones in an iron-containing solution, and then calcining them at 700 °C. Here we present a systematic and advanced study on this material, to obtain a sunscreen with improved UV absorbing properties. Bones were treated with three different iron salts - Fe(II) chloride, Fe(II) lactate and Fe(III) nitrate - under various pH conditions. Results showed that Fe(II) chloride in basic pH led to the most effective iron inclusion. High energy ball milling or ultrasound were investigated to increase surface area and corresponding UV absorption; high energy ball milling treatment led to the best optical properties. The optimum powders were used to formulate UV protection creams, which showed Sun Protection Factor (SPF) values significantly superior to the control cream (up to 4.1). Moreover the critical wavelength (λcrit) was > 370 nm (388–389 nm) and UVA/UVB ratios were very close to 1. With these properties these sunscreens can be classified as broad UV protectors. Results also showed that combining these powders with other sunscreens (i.e. titanium dioxide), a synergic effect between the different components was also observed. This investigation showed that HAp-based sunscreens of marine origin are a valid alternative to commercial products, safe for the health of the customers and, being non-photocatalytic, do not pose a threat to the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Critical wavelength
  • Hydroxyapatite
  • Iron oxide
  • Sun protection factor
  • Sunscreen


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