Aussie Regulations for Sunscreens May Risk Public Health [April 6, 2006]


The Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists (ASCC) warned in a recent press release that government changes to the regulation of moisturizers containing sunscreens could put the public at a higher risk of skin cancer. Recommendations released by the government assume that a moisturizer with SPF 15 and a sunscreen with SPF 15 will provide the same protection; the concern is that these products will not provide the same protection because they are used differently for a different purpose.

”Evidence shows that people generally use less of a primary sunscreen than they should to meet the claimed SPF protection, and they use even less of a moisturizer, which must also be pushed into the skin. Sunscreens are not tested under these conditions of use,” said Gavin Greenoak president of the ASCC and scientific director of the Australian Photobiology Testing Facility at the University of Sydney, in the release.

“SPF means sun protection factor, and protection from sunburn even within the terms of the newly issued guidelines is a therapeutic claim. And for good reason, in the skin cancer capital of the world, where the community needs the best possible assurance of safety, quality and efficacy of sun protection,” said Greenoak in the release. Greenoak, who has performed research on sunscreens and tested them for over 20 years, said: “There was consultation with experts, health professionals and consumer groups on this issue. None of them supported the change, so it is completely bewildering on what basis it went ahead, or in whose interest,” added Greenoak in the press announcement.

“There remains quite a lot of debate about sunscreen use…but there is no debate about the failure of compliance. Many if not most people do not use enough of it. Half the amount will provide only half the protection. A moisturizer, used as such, simply will not deliver on the label claim. And people will burn if they use these products as sunscreens, as the SPF invites them to,” Greenoak said, in the statement. These views are published at:

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