Friday 2 December 2016

Brush up on sunscreen labelling and let it all soak in

Published 05/07/2016 | 02:30

More than one in four people do not know what the SPF rating stands for on sunscreen bottles
More than one in four people do not know what the SPF rating stands for on sunscreen bottles

Thousands of us have a cloudy knowledge of what the labelling on sunscreens means, despite soaring skin cancer rates.

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More than one in four people admit they do not know what the SPF rating stands for on their sunscreen bottle.

And one in three have no idea what the label UVA means, the national survey findings from the HPRA, the medicines' watchdog reveal.

The SPF (sun protection factor) is a measure of the amount of UVB protection offered and it ranges from 2 to 50+, which is the strongest.

UVB rays are linked to burning and skin cancer.

UVA rays have been mostly associated with ageing the skin, leaving us with more lines and wrinkles. But recent studies have also linked UVA to the development of skin cancer.

The survey found a majority of consumers are not checking the labels on the sunscreens despite 10,000 people being diagnosed with skin cancer annually.

There is also widespread confusion about what the term "broad spectrum" means or lack of knowledge that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Darren Scully, the watchdog's cosmetics manager, warned: "Consumers need to be aware of the skin protection benefits of applying a sunscreen with UVA and an appropriate SPF protection.

"We would urge people to check the labelling of sunscreens as both UVA and UVB rays can cause extensive skin damage," she said.

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