Brussels, 9 July 2007
Better protection from sun after European
Consumers will benefit from a new clearer labelling
regime on sunscreen bottles being phased in this summer. The new labels -
including a new UV-A logo or seal on bottles and a ban on misleading terms such
as "sunblocker" or "total protection" - are a response to a Commission
recommendation on sunscreen products adopted in September 2006. As well as
explaining the new sunscreen labelling system, the Commission, through an
information campaign in partnership with Member States is seeking to raise
awareness that there are several reasons why sunscreen products should be only
one out of a number of measures which are necessary to protect from the UV
radiation of the sun. The improved labelling regime is being phased in and will
appear on 20% of sunscreen bottles this summer.
Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said: “Consumers need
clear, accurate information on sunscreen products so they can make informed
choices. We need to reinforce the essential message that sunscreen is only one
of a number of measures that are necessary for effective protection against the
sun." Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said ""When applied properly,
sunscreens can help to protect against skin cancer, but alone they are not
enough. Other sensible precautions include avoiding long periods of exposure,
staying in the shade at peak hours and protecting yourself with a hat and
The improved labelling
The Commission's campaign presents forthcoming improvements of the labelling
of sunscreen products as called for in a Commission recommendation in September
2006 on the efficacy and claims of sunscreen products. Under the
- Claims such as “sunblock” or “100% protection”
should not be used any more. Despite frequent claims like
“sunblocker” and “total protection”, no sunscreen
products can provide for a full protection against UV radiation.
- Standardised verbal descriptors (“low” –
“medium” – “high” and “very high”
protection) should be used alongside traditional SPF (sun protection factor
indicators) to provide guidance for the choice of the appropriate sunscreen
- Better labelling of UV-A protection: while UV-B radiation is the cause of
“sun-burn”, UV-A radiation causes premature skin ageing and
interferences with the human immune system. Both types of radiation are
important contributors to the skin-cancer risk. The so-called ‘sun
protection factor (SPF)’ only refers to equal levels of sunburn (UV-B
radiation) and not to similar effects from UV-A radiation. Sunscreen products
with only UV-B-protection may provide a false sense of safety because they let
hazardous UV-A radiation reach the skin.
- Industry is now starting to introduce a standardised UV-A-seal on its
product labels, indicating a quantified minimum UV-A-protection which increases
in parallel with an increasing sun protection factor and is based on a
standardised testing method.
Facts about the sunscreen
- Progressively, the cosmetics industry will introduce the standardized way of
indicating UVA protection as it is defined in a recent European Commission
Recommendation via a new logo. This will be fully achieved by summer 2008 only,
as labels for 2007 have already been printed. This does not mean that other
products do not provide equivalent levels of UVA protection. For the moment it
is recommended to keep on reading the full label.
consumers know this summer?
The improved labelling regime will start to become “visible” on
the market in summer 2007. At the same time, consumers are advised to use
sunscreen products only as one out of many measures to protect against the sun.
Other measures include:
- Avoid excessive sun exposure at peak hours, which is usually between 11am
- When it is not possible to stay out of the sun, keep yourself well covered;
hats and sun glasses can give you additional protection;
- Avoid direct sun exposure of babies and young children;
- Use sunscreens products protecting against both UVB and UVA radiation;
- Apply sunscreen products in sufficient quantity. The correct application of
the product is just as important as the choice of the product itself. To reach
the protection indicated on the “sun protection factor”, a quantity
of 2mg/cm² needs to be applied. This is about 36 grams (6 full tea spoons)
of suncream for one adult body. Presently consumers use usually only about
½ of this quantity. This quantity has to be re-applied after swimming or
towelling to maintain protection. See pictograms which will be used to
reinforce these and other key facts and figures on sun exposure in accompanying
memo. Commission consumer website
The campaign will be run by the Commission and national partners to the
voluntary agreement in different member states over the next year -using
websites, the press, posters, partnerships with tour operators and advertising.
Facts about the sunscreen industry:
The EU is a major and growing market for sunscreens. In 2005, the estimated
retail value (retail sales price) of sunscreen products in Europe was over
€ 1.3 billion. There was a slight increase in sales in the EU in 2006.
The EU sunscreen market is dominated by European companies: in the top ten
suppliers in the EU, there are only three non-European companies whose market
share amounts to roughly 10%.
Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED