European Commission tightens labelling regulation for sunscreens

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sunscreen Ultraviolet

The European Commission issued an information initiative yesterday
that requires sunscreen manufacturers to amend all sunscreen labels
by next summer, in an attempt to further educate consumers on the
perils of over exposure to the sun..

Due to be phased in this summer, the new sunscreen-labelling regime is set to abolish any claims of 'total protection' or complete 'sun block' on products, with the EC claiming that even the high SPF products let some UV radiation through.

With many consumers negating to effectively protect themselves against both UVB rays, and the lesser-known UVA rays, a large part of the new initiative is revolved around increasing awareness of the fact that both rays are equally as harmful, and to purchase sunscreens that offer protection against both.

The EC claims that providing a clearer label format for sunscreen products will help put an end to consumer confusion and help reduce the risk of skin cancer, that kills over 3000 people a day in the EU.

All sunscreen manufacturers have until the end of next summer to ensure product lines state whether they provide low, medium, high or very high protection, whilst giving the SPF against UVB rays.

Earlier last year a standardised logo for UVA protection was created following a commission recommendation, which allows consumers to see that 'they have a UVA protection which increases in parallel with the strength of the sun protection factor and is based on a standard testing method'.

UVB radiation mainly provokes sunburn and cancer risk, while UVA radiation is responsible for skin ageing, impacts on the human immune system and also plays an important contribution to the skin cancer risk.

The information initiative also goes into detail regarding the amount of sunscreen that is needed to sufficiently protect the body against sun damage, with a typical dosage to protect an entire adult body being 35 grams of sunscreen, which is equivalent to six filled tea spoons.

It goes onto strongly recommend that the use of sunscreen and creams is just one measure to protect the skin against the sun.

Onus was put on staying out of the sun in peak times (between 11am and 3pm) and wearing protective gear, such as hats and sunglasses.

Likewise, the commission stated that sunscreen should still be worn on cloudy days, with 90 per cent of solar UV radiation being able to penetrate clouds.

The focus on sunscreen comes at a time when many consumers are confused by the issue of sun protection, with a recent US survey carried out by dermatologists in the US showing that consumers are still not aware, or else don't take seriously, the importance of using sunblock or sunscreen to prevent sun damage, suggesting industry still has work to do to get the message over.

The results of the survey were gathered by the Massachusetts-based South Shore Skin Center at a recently held women's expo, where 48 women aged 17 to 70 and two men under 50 were questioned over their attitudes to sun protection.

"With all the education and talk nowadays of sun damage - from wrinkles to melanoma, it's surprising that there are so many people who don't believe in the necessity of using sunscreen," said Dr. Richard Eisen, founder of South Shore Skin Center.

The news comes despite the fact that countless national and international health and safety organizations have launched awareness campaigns in recent years, particularly in the light of the categorical evidence linking exposure to UVA and UVB rays with skin damage that can lead to cancer.

Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that, when it came to beautifying treatments for the skin such as chemical peels, alpha hydroxyl or glycolic acid and Botox - many of which focus on treating damage created by sun exposure - the survey found that knowledge levels were high.

Related topics Skin Care

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