A hydroxyapatite–Fe2O3 based material of natural origin as an active sunscreen filter
The use of sunscreens as protective barriers against skin damage and cancer, by absorbing harmful UVA and UVB rays, is becoming an increasingly important issue. Such products are usually based on TiO2 or ZnO, although both Fe2O3 and hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2, HAp) doped with metal ions have been reported as being ultraviolet (UV) absorbing materials. HAp is the main component of bone; it is, therefore, highly biocompatible. In the present work, an iron-doped HAp-based material, containing both Fe ions substituted into the HAp structure and iron oxide in hematite (α-Fe2O3) form, was successfully developed from waste cod fish bones. This was achieved through a simple process of treating the bones in a Fe(II) containing solution, followed by heating at 700 °C. The material showed good absorption in the whole UV range and did not form radicals when irradiated. The sunscreen cream formulated with this material could be used as a broad sunscreen protector (λcrit > 370 nm), showing high absorption both in the UVA and UVB ranges. Because of its absorption properties it would be classified as 5 star protection according to the Boots UVA star rating system. The cream is also photostable, and does not cause irritation or erythema formation when in contact with the human skin. These results show that a food by-product such as fish bones could be converted into a valuable product, with potential applications in health care and cosmetics. This is the first time a HAp-based sunscreen cream has been developed and validated as a proof of concept.