As the summer temperatures here reached “scorchio” levels for the UK, (actually hitting the mid-90s in some places – that’s exceptionally high for us!), it was perhaps no surprise to read and hear a lot of media chatter about sun protection.
Historically, the UK’s media spotlight is, rather frustratingly, generally quite favourable when it comes to stories on sun lotions; but that all changed recently. In fact within the space of a week, two reports were published by two separate and credible organisations, both of them lambasting the manufacturers of sun protection lotions.
Within the space of a week, two reports were published lambasting the manufacturers of sun protection lotions.
The first by the UK’s leading consumer watchdog, Which?, claimed that two of the UK’s best selling sun protection lotions weren’t actually providing the level of protection as claimed. Although the manufacturers denied it, the lotions were said to be providing some 30% less protection against UVB than stated on the packaging, although the UVA protection level was tested to be appropriate to the “star” rating claimed.
And it was the different rating systems printed on sun lotion bottle labels that was the basis of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) survey published a week later. The survey of 2,000 UK adults found that huge confusion existed about the labels on sun lotion bottles. Just 8% of the people surveyed knew that the SPF rating for sun lotion only applied to UVB rays and one in four surveyed said they didn’t know what the SPF rating stood for at all! In the UK, UVA protection is indicated by a “star” rating of 0-5 and only one-third of the people surveyed said they checked the different rating system for UVA protection. Perhaps the most concerning finding was from those adults surveyed who had children; with 15% admitting they never checked the SPF in the sun lotion they used.
Not surprisingly, as a result of this research, the RPS has called for manufacturers to come together and all agree to use the same rating system on their product labels. The suggestion is that this should be based on a simple description of the total amount of sun protection offered, i.e. low, medium, high and very high protection for both UVA and UVB rays.
Of course, this would unequivocally be the most pragmatic approach and it all sounds very straightforward. Why would any sun lotion manufacturer not want to comply? Indeed why hasn’t this simple labelling system been put in place before now? Surely this would make it clearer for the consumer in helping them select a better level of “protection.” So, let’s see what happens and exactly how long it takes.
Let’s not forget that there are published concerns about some of the ingredients used in sun protection creams. However, it does seem rather bizarre to me that the sun lotion industry would not automatically be bottling a product that does its job for both UVA and UVB rays, and/or that they would resist lobbying pressure to introduce a simpler, universal labelling system – but as you may not be surprised to read, I have my own thoughts on why this would be!
It’s a major frustration that the mainstream media appears to gloss over the role that the sun lotion industry surely has to play in the rise in the number of skin cancer incidences. But for fear of repeating myself – you may not be surprised to read, I have my own thoughts on this too!
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary Lipman is Managing Director of the UK subsidary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products & spray systems. He is also Chairman of the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
Copyright 2016 ist Magazine