SPF 50 + sunscreen now available in Australia

SPF 50+ sunscreen now in Australia

Nikki ParkinsonBeauty 37 Comments

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.

SPF 50 + sunscreen now available in Australia

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

Banana Boat SPF 50+ sunscreen

La Roche-Posay: Anthelios Stick; Fluide Extreme (formulations meet the requirements but packaging will be updated in December)

La Roche-Posay SPF 50+ sunscreen

Ella Bache: Great Sportsbloc Active, Great Facesaver Active

Ella Bache 50+ sunscreens


NIVEA Sun Moisturising Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+

NIVEA Sun Moisturising Sunscreen SPF 50+

Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF 50

Dermalogic Solar Defense Booster SPF 50


Woolworths Select SPF 50+

Woolworths Select SPF 50+ sunscreen

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? 

PS. If you have an online business that Styling You readers need to know about and buy from, check out the Christmas banner advertising specials I’ve just launched. Buy two months and receive one month free.

Comments 37

  1. This is great news! I have been getting friends and family in the UK to send me 50+ sunscreen for a few years. It makes sense for Australia to have higher protection sunscreen.

  2. Well after my husband had 45 stitches & a partial reconstruction to his nose due to skin cancer will all be 50+ it here at my house! Thank you for sharing the information, interesting as always. Where did you find them available for purchase?

  3. The Mac BB cream I mentioned in response to your latest BB post? That comes with SPF 50. Can’t wait for THAT to be available in Australia.

  4. This is good news, however when making my sunscreen choices, I will be balancing SPF levels with chemical additives. Maybe this is because I have sensitive skin, but I read from a reliable source that SPF 15 absorbs 93.3% UVB, SPF 30 absorbs 96.7% UVB and SPF 50 absorbs 98% UVB, and the higher the SPF, the more UV Chemical Filters. So considering the difference between SPF 30 and 50 is 1.3% extra protection, I’d prefer SPF 30 with less chemicals 🙂

    1. That’s a whole different argument Bel and one that if you read Banana Boat’s fact sheet doesn’t necessarily apply http://bananaboat.com.au/products/spf50/ You would not know for sure unless you tried it. There are plenty of “natural” sunscreens that I react to so I understand sensitivity. And there are plenty of people who will not wear any because of the chemicals in the sunscreen. That’s their choice. I love the beach and have pale skin so much choice is to find sunscreens I don’t react to.

  5. As I am someone that is very pale and burns easily, it is is a welcome change for me! I’ll be changing over as soon as I can! Thanks for being on the ball Nikki.

  6. Love this! I am always on the lookout for a sunscreen with good protection that doesn’t block my pores. I will be checking back on this post to see what you find.

  7. That is great news I know we have the toughest drugs laws in Australia and it is a good thing in most ways ,but not in others we seem to be the last country to get the new drugs that are needed most.The sunsceen with the higher SPF is wonderful though as we have one of the harshest climates in the world.

    1. Yes, that’s the irony … I can go to the Greek Islands and rarely get burned but have access to higher SPFs yet here where the UV meter is extreme, I haven’t had access to highest possible sunscreen protection.

  8. thanks for this nikki! in canada we have had 30 & 60 for a long time and now even 100, so i always wondered why aus (the land of the sun!) didn’t have higher SPF. i always use 60 there – and find it is actually more absorbent and less greasy than the formulations here (the customs people must think it weird when i return home with 6 bottles of SPF 60 in my bag). this past (canadian) summer i tried the 100 and have to say i found that to be too thick – not greasy just hard to rub in – it had a much higher zinc content i think. anyhow – like your family, we live at the beach/beside the pool so it is great to know that we can get the higher SPF here now. =)

    1. That would be a good Border Security segment, wouldn’t it? You arriving with a sunscreen stash! Yes, it’s very good that the SPF formulation is now allowed to be higher here – the changes to the UVA formulation in all sunscreens is very important too.

    2. Because, according to the Cancer Council. Most sunscreens in Australia are already over 30+ anyway. Also the protection factor is an algorithm meaning that 30+ gives you 97% protection and 50+ gives you 98%. There has not really been a need to change the legislation.

      1. I suspect many are a higher SPF but have never been able to advertise as such. And my understanding of the SPF is different from yours – it’s a multiplier based on clinical trials that determine how long you can stay in the sun without and with sunscreens. Aside from that, the UVA changes are perhaps even more important than the SPF ones.

          1. Thanks Steph. I’m waiting for clarification from the QLD Cancer Council on the multiplier effect of SPFs as opposed to the protection %. The higher the SPF should give you longer in the sun without burning (all other conditions being the same).

  9. Hi Nikki, great news about SPF50+ sunscreen. I have sunscreen in my moisturiser and foundation for day use for incidental exposure to the sun, but on days when I know I’m going to be directly in the sun, I like to add a layer of sunscreen. I usually put it on after my moisturiser, is this the best point to add sunscreen or should it be added before moisturiser? Thanks!

  10. I don’t know what sunscreen to buy my 18 year old . He kite surfs most days and is regularly getting sunburnt on his face despite wearing waterproof sunscreen. So I am constantly looking for a new version that will protect his nose and face without being too thick and fluffy. Any suggestions from others who spend lots of time in the sun and the water?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.