Experts Say Sunscreen Protection Ratings Must Be Made Clearer
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society says that it is unclear to consumers what protection various sun creams offer, thanks to contrasting rating systems used by different manufacturers. In their survey of 2,000 UK adults, 56% incorrectly believed that an SPF rating indicates protection against all UV rays, while 25% did not know what it stands for at all.
The SPF – or Sun Protection Factor – rating refers to the level of protection offered against UVB rays only. However, protection is also needed against UVA rays, which can cause just as much damage and contribute just as much to your risk of skin cancer. UVA rays can also penetrate the skin more deeply, causing wrinkles and other signs of skin-ageing.
On sun cream bottles, protection against UVA rays is generally indicated by a “star” rating. As a large number of people are unaware of this, too many are not getting the protection their skin needs while out in the sunshine. 15% of those surveyed admitted that they never check the UVA rating when buying sunscreen.
This confusion has led the RPS to call for a new universal rating to be used on all sun cream bottles, to make the protection they offer against both types of UV rays clearer to all.
“Clearly many consumers do not realise the SPF rating applies only to the amount of protection offered against UVB rays, not UVA rays – both of which can damage the skin and cause skin cancer,” says Professor Jayne Lawrence, chief scientist for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. “People should not have to pick their way through complicated dual ratings information to understand how sunscreen works and the amount of protection it potentially provides.”
She adds: “What the RPS is calling for now is one uniform measure for all sun protection products, so pharmacists can provide easy-to-understand advice on the effectiveness of products and how they should be used.”