Sunscreen just got better in Australia.
Yesterday this news started to filter into my inbox:
1. SPF 50 + sunscreen has now been approved for Australia.
2. Sunscreens have to offer greater UVA protection as part of their formulation.
If you’re scratching your head and wondering if SPF 50 + formulations were available in other countries, why didn’t we have access to them in the first place, I am a bit too.
Australia has some of the toughest therapeutic goods laws in the world. This is mostly a good thing but in this case I think it’s meant that we haven’t kept up with another good thing and that’s offering to a sun-drenched market its best protection ever.
According to L’Oreal’s Professor Dominique Moyal this legislation has already been implemented in Europe since 2006 and more recently in Latin America, “so for Australians this will be a step forward for sun protection”.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has confirmed that from November 10, 2012, these new sunscreen Standards took legislative effect.
1. The SPF claim represents the UVB protection factor and a 50+ claim represents a minimum SPF of 60.
2. The new legal requirement for a higher level of UVA protection means that sunscreens need to have a UVA/UVB ration of at least one third.
But before we get into that, a little non-jargony (hopefully) chat about SPF and UVAs and UVBs.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It’s all about protecting you from the burn caused by UVBs (Ultra Violet B rays).
The actual SPF number is an estimate based on clinical trials about how long you can remain in the sun without burning while wearing sunscreen.
If all the same conditions are met (ie, you actually apply enough sunscreen and without missing patches like I am skilled at doing) you should be able to multiply the time you can stay outdoors without burning by that of the SPF number on your sunscreen bottle.
What Cancer Council Queensland says:
Following strict laboratory testing, a sunscreen is given an SPF number (between 4 and 50+ in Australia). The testing compares the time it takes for patches of skin with sunscreen to show redness with the time it takes to produce the same amount of skin redness without sunscreen.
The SPF number is a guide as to how much protection a sunscreen provides against UV radiation. In simple terms, the higher the SPF, the more protection offered. An SPF label value of 50+ means the sunscreen product has been shown in clinical testing to protect the skin at least 50 times more against sun burning energy than unprotected skin.
“Time to burn without sunscreen” is different for each individual and is not a universal measure.
It is important to note that sunscreens do not filter 100% of UV radiation. All sunscreens will let some UV radiation through at varying rates indicated by the sun protection factor (SPF) number. Sunscreens with an SPF 30+ rating filter approximately 96.7% of UV radiation. Sunscreens with an SPF 50+ rating filter out about 98% of UV radiation.
Sunscreen in isolation is not sufficient protection. Clothing, hats, sunglasses and using shade all remain just as important.
UVAs are slow, silent assassins.
These rays don’t make you burn but they reach into the layers of the skin and can cause long-term damage to cells and the immune system.
It’s these babies that bring on the wrinkles and skin cancer.
In a nutshell?
These improvements to the requirements for sunscreen formulations are GOOD.
Should you make the leap to 50 +
Banana Boat, one of the first brands to offer SPF 50 + formulations in Australia, says making the step up to the higher SPF will depend on your skin type, the activity and the UV rating for the location you are in.
I can’t tell you what to do but I will tell you what as a family we will be doing.
Between us, our skin ranges from fair to medium in complexion. We live at the beach. In Queensland.
Yes, SPF 50 + is looking like a logical and sensible option.
I may not be sensible in shoe choices but I am sensible when it comes to sunscreen.
What you can buy?
The three brands I’ve been made aware of to date and that are ready with SPF 50 + compliant sunscreen formulations are:
Banana Boat: Baby, Kids, Sport, Ultra, Sensitive, Faces
La Roche-Posay: Anthelios Stick; Fluide Extreme (formulations meet the requirements but packaging will be updated in December)
Ella Bache: Great Sportsbloc Active, Great Facesaver Active
NIVEA Sun Moisturising Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
I’ll update this page as more sunscreen brands announce the step up to SPF 50 + and as I get to trial some of these as they arrive in stores. I’ve been told that a higher SPF does not mean a thicker, greasier sunscreen or more chemicals. Winning.
Tell me, will you be stepping up to a higher SPF too?
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