Industry defends water-resistant sun care

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Industry defends water-resistant sun care
The UK trade association for the beauty industry has criticised a recent Which? Magazine report that suggests water-resistant sunscreens may not offer adequate protection.

The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA), says that the report offers outdated sun safety advice, and offers advice that may put consumers off protecting their skin with sunscreens.

Disappointingly Which? has chosen to raise a number of questions about water-resistant sunscreen safety which could alarm consumers – and even discourage them from using sunscreens as part of a sunsafe regime​,” says the CTPA​.

Which? also offers outdated sun safety advice that could prove harmful to consumers. The CTPA is concerned by this.​”

Water-resistant, but still offers protection

The CTPA say that the products tested by Which? are indeed water-resistant rather than waterproof, but even so, that they offer higher levels of sun protection than the report suggests.

Dr Chris Flower, Chartered Biologist and toxicologist and Director-General of CTPA, has released a statement to explain the process that goes into making sure water resistant sunscreens meet safety requirements.

The aim of the validated test method used by suncare manufacturers is to determine that the sunscreen will not be completely washed off while being worn in the water.  

“Interestingly, tap water is used in the test as it is a more harsh solvent than salt or chlorinated water.  

To pass the test, a product must retain at least 50% of the initial SPF value after immersion in water. In fact an SPF 30 product will stop approximately 96% of UV rays reaching the skin and after robust water resistance testing the product will still filter out at least 93% of the sun’s UV rays​.  

Clearly not the dramatic reduction in efficacy that Which? implies. However a on-water-resistant product could be washed off the skin completely meaning no protection from UV rays (until reapplication).​”

The CTPA also emphasises the importance of regularly reapplying sunscreens, especially after swimming or towelling dry, even with water-resistant products.

No product ‘waterproof’

The CTPA also stresses that no product is waterproof, and the term sunblock should also be avoided.

We are absolutely clear: that no product is 100% waterproof; just as no sunscreen can provide 100% protection.   

“The term “sunblock” should not be used on sun protection products and importantly sunscreens should never be used to spend longer in the sun​.”

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