The TGA has completed its review of sunscreens – and found consumers can have confidence in using them as directed
In May 2017, the TGA published the results of its laboratory testing of 31 commonly-used sunscreens, including lotions, creams and aerosol sprays sourced from Australian pharmacies and supermarkets.
These results revealed that all the products tested contained the levels of active ingredients their labels claimed.
Now, the TGA has completed a desktop review of 94 listed sunscreen products, to obtain a snapshot of the quality, safety and efficacy of sunscreens available on the Australian market.
“During this process, TGA staff reviewed product labels, manufacturing and formulation data, and sun protection factor (SPF)-testing data provided by the sponsor,” says the TGA.
“This helped us to determine whether these sunscreens met relevant regulatory requirements under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, including the Australian and New Zealand Sunscreen Standard (2012).”
It found no compliance deficiencies that concerned it in relation to quality, safety and efficacy in everyday use.
The TGA also identified no sensitivity issues based on the amounts of the ingredients they contain compared to regulatory requirements.
However, it also emphasised that some individuals may be sensitive to ingredients found in sunscreens.
“Side effects, such as allergic reactions are possible. This is true for any cosmetic, medicines, skin treatment and some foods.
“Consumers are encouraged to perform a test on a small patch of skin prior to use.”
Application remains an issue with regard to aerosol sunscreen, the TGA says. SPF-testing data supported the SPF claims on packaging, but the TGA warns that sunscreen is only effective if applied thoroughly and correctly.
It says the quantity of product delivered and the amount lost into the atmosphere during aerosol application varies between brands.
“Consumers can have confidence in the sunscreen products currently available on the Australian market when used as directed on the label,” the TGA says.
It encouraged consumers to apply sunscreen liberally: at least one teaspoon/5mL to each area – the arm, leg, back, etc – for full coverage and effectiveness.
Sunscreen should be reapplied regularly (every two hours) especially after swimming or towelling. Activities which cause perspiration may mean more frequent reapplication is necessary.
“Sunscreen products do not block 100% of UV radiation. You will become sunburnt if your skin is exposed to the sun for extended periods.”
It advises consumers that as sunscreens are regulated as medicines, side-effects should be reported directly to the TGA.