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Sunscreen Standard Change

Sunscreen Standard

Sunscreen in Australia is regulated / governed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), a division of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Essentially the TGA determine what type of sunscreens can be sold in Australia, including what SPF levels.

In June 2012, a new Sunscreen Standard was published by Standards Australia. Changes in the Australian Standard will provide the Australian consumer with more choice (raising the maximum SPF level to 50+) and improved UVA protection in sunscreens.

Given Australia has one of the highest rates on skin cancer in the world due to our climate and large fair-skinned population, the change in the Standard is a step in the right direction to combat UV damage and skin cancer in Australia.

It is anticipated that the Australian Sunscreen Standard will become law in 2013.

What can I expect to see in my local store or pharmacy?

  1. Higher SPF levels (eg. SPF40, 45 and 50+) – Better protection against UVB (burning) rays
  2. Improved UVA (ageing) protection on current sunscreens - Overall, more advanced sunscreens will be available to all Australians than what has been available in the past.

Why introduce a higher protection sunscreen?

There are both behavioural and biological reasons :

  1. Australians do not apply enough sunscreen. Small changes in the amount of product applied results in large changes in the SPF delivered. Research has shown that many sun-lovers use as little as half the amount of sunscreen required to reach the full product SPF. This therefore markedly reduces the amount of protection Australians receive whilst out in our harsh Aussie sun.
  2. Australians do not reapply product frequently enough. There are two rules for sunscreen application - 1) Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, particularly between 10am and 3pm when the sun is at its harshest and 2) Re-apply at frequent intervals (at least every 2 hours) or after swimming, excessive perspiration, or towel drying. The issue we see in Australia is that many sun-lovers do not adhere to these rules. Combine this with using too little when first applied, Aussies are under-protected and overexposed.
  3. We need to look beyond sunburn and start to think about long-term skin damage - Skin cancer, skin darkening, age spots, DNA damage Whilst it is important to protect against the immediate effects of the sun (sunburn/ skin reddening), it is still important to protect against the longer term affects caused by UV exposure (both UVA&UVB) whose affects will be seen in years to come (age spots, wrinkles, skin cancer).