After years of debate, the Australian Government Department of Health & Ageing and its regulating body, the Therapeutic Goods Administration have given a nod to SPF 50+ certification of sunscreens in Australia.With summer weeks away, the news couldn’t be timelier.
With 2 in 3 Australians getting skin cancer before the age of 70, this certification is well over due, according to Kerryn Greive, Ego Pharmaceutical's Research & Development Manager.
“An SPF 50 sunscreen reduces the radiation getting through to our skin by about 40 per cent when compared to an SPF 30 sunscreen… moving to SPF 50+ is a great step forward for Australia as it means we will have access to the best possible sun protection,” he says.
The Cancer Council Australia supports the move, however, they caution the higher number shouldn’t give Australians a false sense of security in the sun.
“SPF 50+ does not mean you have a ‘suit of armour’; you need to apply this just as liberally as SPF 30+,” says Craig Sinclair, chairman of the Cancer Council’s national skin cancer committee.
What does the 50 in SPF 50+ mean?SPF 50+ provides marginally improved UV coverage compared to its 30+ counterpart.When applied correctly, SPF 30+ allows 3.3 per cent of UVB rays to reach your skin, while SPF 50+ allows only 1.67 per cent to reach the skin. SPF 50+ also provides better protection against long-term skin damage, meaning higher UVA protection.
“This essentially means that the wearer could stay in the sun for 50 times longer than they could without any sunscreen,” adds Greive.
And while it might be a higher level of protection, no sun protection product offers 100 per cent protection from the sun’s UV rays, says Anna Webster, Senior Brand Manager for Banana Boat. You’ll still need to reapply SPF 50+ every two hours.