According to the European Commission Recommendation Document 32006H0647, sunscreen, sunscreen products are cosmetic products within the meaning of Article 1(1) of Council Directive 76/768/EEC of 27 July 1976 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products. The efficacy of sunscreen products against UV radiation is considered as important public health issue and products should protect against all dangerous UV radiation.
The European Commission requires sunscreens to be safe, and effective with simple and true labelling. Labels and claims should provide sufficient information about the efficacy of the product in a meaningful and unambiguous manner to allow choosing the appropriate product. The products should also include instructions on how to apply them correctly to achieve the expected protection.
Sunscreen products in European market are required to protect against both UVA (320-400 nm) and UVB (290-320 nm) as their impact on photo aging, melanoma, carcinoma, photo immunosuppression, and erythema are shown in studies and protection against UVB only does not suffice. Even with strong sunscreens there is still risk of skin damage and cancer therefore the Council prohibits labelling such as sun blocker which may create the impression of total protection and even asks for appropriate warnings against such mistaken perceptions.
EU commission has recommendation on proper application and re-application of sunscreen products. An average adult needs 36 grams of lotion (2mf /cm2) to achieve the protection level indicated by the SPF value similar to the quantity used for measuring its sun protection factor. Smaller quantities as usually applied by consumer leads to disproportionate reduction in protection for example applying half the required amount yields only one third protection from the full amount.
The commission requires a sufficiently effective protection against both UVB and UVA radiation. It also requires that products with higher SPF value (protection against UVA) provide also a greater protection against UVA radiation. It suggests that UVA protection indicated by persistent pigment darkening is required to be at least one third of the UVB protection indicated by sun protection factor. To ensure reproducibility and comparability, the International Sun Protection Factor Test Method (2006) as updated in 2006 by the European, Japanese, American and South African industry and the persistent pigment darkening method as applied by the Japanese industry and modified by the French health agency Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des produits de santé should be used.
Moreover, a critical wavelength of at least 370 nm (the wavelength for which the section under the integrated optical density curve starting at 290 nm is equal to 90 % of the integrated section between 290 to 400 nm) is required to ensure a broad-spectrum protection.
A four-level ranking (low, medium, high, and very high) is suggested to represent protection efficacy against both UVA and UVB in a simple but meaningful manner instead of numeric values. Read more.
Measured sun protection factor
Very high protection
50 + (>= 60)