Formulation and Development of Herbal Sunscreen Cream


Amit Roy*, Ram Kumar Sahu

Columbia Institute of Pharmacy, Tekari, Raipur (C.G.)-493111, India.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:




The aim of present study was to formulation and development of herbal sunscreen cream containing extracts of plant materials such as Terminalia  arjuna, Tinospora cordifolia and Gycyrrhiza glabra. Oil in water (O/W) base cream was prepared from the ethanol extract of T. arjuna, P. corylifolia and G. glabra. The in vitro SPF value of cream was evaluated. The evaluation of cream was done on different parameters like pH, viscosity, spreadibilty, and stability were examined. The prepared cream exhibited highest SPF value 24.35. The herbal cream showed good spreadibilty, good consistency, homogeneity, appearance, pH, ease of removal and no evidence of phase separation. The prepared herbal sunscreen creams was safe to use for skin.


KEYWORDS: Terminalia  arjuna, Tinospora cordifolia, Gycyrrhiza glabra, herbal sunscreen cream.




Today peoples are showing more interest towards herbal cosmetic comparatively synthetic cosmetic products. The sun protection factor (SPF) creams are applied on skin to protect it from sunburn. The higher SPF value indicates maximum protection from highly energetic UV radiation emitted by sun rays. It is also documented that the herbal sunscreen cream are more safer and produces minimum side effects compared to cream prepared from chemical substance.


The phenolic and flavonoids present in plants produces antioxidant properties. These bioactive components have capability to absorb the UV radiations. Moreover it also neutralizes the free radicals produces in skin due to UV radiation. The mechanism of action of the flavonoids is through scavenging or chelating processes1-4.


Terminalia arjuna (Family Combretaceae) bark contains phenols, flavonoids, tannin, saponin, alkaloids, glycosides, phytosterols and carbohydrate5. Tinospora cordifolia (Family Menispermaceae) contain various active components namely alkaloids, steroids, diterpenoid lactones, Flavonoids, polyphenol, aliphatics, and glycosides. These active constituents have been isolated from the different parts of the plant body, including root, stem, and whole plant6.


An extract of Glycyrrhiza glabra (Family Leguminosae) is rich of natural antioxidants. The most popular antioxidants component in extract of G. glabra is glycyrrhizin (glycyrrhizic acid) and flavonoids. The therapeutic effect of G. glabra extract on skin is mainly due to its antioxidant property particularly to its potent antioxidants triterpene saponins and flavonoids. It is commonly used in skin for skin whitening, skin depigmenting, skin lightening, antiaging, emollient, anti-acne and photoprotection7. Therefore, an attempt has been made in this study to combine these plants in preparation of herbal sunscreen cream; and to evaluate the in vitro SPF value of prepared cream.



Preparation of extracts:

Air dried and coarsely powdered of T. arjuna, P. corylifolia and G. glabra were placed in soxhlet extractor separately, using petroleum ether and then successively with ethanol. The extracts were then concentrated to dryness under reduced pressure and controlled temperature, respectively and they were preserved in a refrigerator.


Preparation of cream:

Oil in water (O/W) emulsion-based cream (semisolid formulation) was formulated. The emulsifier (stearic acid) and other oil soluble components (Cetyl alcohol, almond oil) were dissolved in the oil phase (Part A) and heated to 75°C. The preservatives and other water soluble components (Methyl paraban, Propyl paraban, Triethanolamine, Propylene glycol, all extracts) were dissolved in the aqueous phase (Part B) and heated to 75° C. After heating, the aqueous phase was added in portions to the oil phase with continuous stirring until cooling of emulsifier took place8,9. The composition of cream is given in table 1.


Table 1: Composition of herbal extract based cream


Formula % w/w

Stearic acid


Cetyl alcohol






Almond oil




T. arjuna


P. corylifolia


G. glabra


Methyl paraban


Rose oil (drops)




Water, qs, 100



In vitro SPF assay of cream:

The in vitro screening method was examined by Kaur et al, 2011 and Ashawat et al, 2006. 10% solution of herbal cream was prepared in 95% ethanol. Absorbance was measured for each sample at 290-320 nm at the interval of 5 nm, using UV-Visible spectrophotometer10-12.  


The observed absorbance values at 5 nm intervals (290-320 nm) were calculated by using formula:



Where, CF is correction factor, EE (λ) is erythmogenic effect of radiation with wavelength λ and Abs (λ) is spectrophotometric absorbance values at wavelength λ. The values of EE (λ)xI (λ) are constants.  


Evaluation of cream:

pH of the Cream:

The pH meter was calibrated using standard buffer solution. About 0.5g of the cream was weighed and dissolved in 50.0 ml of distilled water and its pH was measured.



Viscosity of the formulation was determined by Brookfield Viscometer at 100 rpm, using spindle no 7. 





Dye test:

The scarlet red dye is mixed with the cream. Place a drop of the cream on a microscopic slide covers it with a cover slip, and examines it under a microscope. If the disperse globules appear red the ground colourless. The cream is o/w type. The reverse condition occurs in w/o type cream i.e. the disperse globules appear colourless in the red ground.



The formulations were tested for the homogeneity by visual appearance and by touch. 



The appearance of the cream was judged by its color, pearlscence and roughness and graded.


After feel:

Emolliency, slipperiness and amount of residue left after the application of fixed amount of cream was checked.


Type of smear:

After application of cream, the type of film or smear formed on the skin were checked.



The ease of removal of the cream applied was examined by washing the applied part with tap water.


Acid value:

Take 10 gm of substance dissolved in accurately weighed, in 50 ml mixture of equal volume of alcohol and solvent ether, the flask was connected to reflux condenser and slowly heated, until sample was dissolved completely, to this 1 ml of phenolphthalein added and titrated with 0.1N NaOH, until faintly pink color appears after shaking for 30 seconds. 


Acid value  =  n X 5.61/w

n =  the number of ml of  NaOH required.

w = the weigh of substance.


Saponification value:

Introduce about 2 gm of substance refluxed with 25 ml of 0.5 N alcoholic KOH for 30 minutes, to this 1 ml of phenolphthalein added and titrated immediately, with 0.5 N HCL.

Saponification value  =  (b-a) X 28.05/w

The volume in ml of titrant = a

The volume in ml of titrant =b

The weigh of substance in gm = w



Table 2: SPF determination of herbal cream

Wavelength (nm)

EE(λ) X I(λ) Employed

Absorbance (A)

EE(λ)XI(λ)XAbsorbance (A)


































Irritancy test:

Mark an area ( on the left hand dorsal surface. The cream was applied to the specified area and time was noted. Irritancy, erythema, edema, was checked if any for regular intervals up to 24 hrs and reported8,9.



The SPF value produced by formulated herbal cream was 24.48. The value of SPF obtained by formulations was very appreciating when we compare with that of other herbal extracts as reported by various authors. The pH of the cream was found to be 6.72, and it is good for skin. The viscosity of was cream was 28015 cps, revealing the easy spreadibilty of cream. The acid value and saponification value of cream were 6.7 and 26.14 respectively.


The formulated cream exhibited no redness, edema, inflammation and irritation during irritancy studies in animals. The dye test confirms that formulated cream was o/w type emulsion cream. The homogeneity test confirms the uniform distribution of extracts in cream. When formulation were kept for long time, it found that no change in colour of cream. The emolliency, slipperiness and amount of residue left after the application of fixed amount of cream. The formulated cream exhibited non greasy effect, after application of cream on the skin. The cream was easily removed by washing with tap water.



The herbal cream exhibited high SPFs i.e., 24.48, this may be due to the high amounts of phenolic compounds and flavonoids are present in extracts. It is concluded that the herbal cream has high amount of phenolic and flavonoids, due to synergistic action after combining the different extracts of plant, it produces high SPF value.


The pH of prepared cream was nearer skin pH, and cream produces homogeneous, emollient, non-greasy and easily removed properties after the application. The herbal sunscreen cream was safe in respect to skin irritation and allergic sensitization. These studies suggest that herbal sunscreen cream is more stable and also it may produce synergistic action.



Authors wish to thank the Chhattisgarh Council of Science and Technology, Raipur, India for their financial support (File No. 2166/CCOST/MRP/12).



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Received on 12.05.2014                    Accepted on 26.06.2014  

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Research J. Topical and Cosmetic Sci. 5(1):Jan.–June 2014 page12-14