Why UVA Protection Matters
Until the mid-1990's when FDA called a public meeting on UVA protection, sunscreen manufacturers and regulatory officials paid little attention to UVA protection (FDA 1994). Meanwhile, in the 1990s and early 2000s, scientists repeated and verified experiments from the 60's and 70's showing UVA-induced damages, this time with more accurate scientific instrumentation.
The vast majority of sunscreens available in the United States are marketed under a regulatory framework called the OTC Monograph System. FDA reviews the active ingredients in these products to determine whether the ingredients are generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) for OTC sunscreen use.
U.S. regulations recognize the importance of blocking a wide range of UV wavelengths to reduce skin cancer risk, but the standards may not be high enough to meet that goal, researchers say.
Currently, U.S. products only measure SPF based on protection against ultraviolet B rays, which cause sunburn. This number doesn’t say much about protection against ultraviolet A light, which is linked to aging, wrinkling and skin cancer.
To be truly effective at preventing skin damage and skin cancers, U.S. sunscreens need to provide better protection from UVA. Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
The European Commission’s Recommendation on UVA Protection
While most high-SPF sunscreens in the U.S. meet national standards for ultraviolet A (UVA) protection, most don’t meet European standards, a recent study found. EWG estimates that about half of the 750 beach and sport sunscreens they assessed are too weak for the European market.
In the nations regulated by the European Commission, manufacturers voluntarily comply with a recommendation that broad spectrum protection by the ratio of UVA to UVB protection, requiring one third of the SPF number to be UVA protection. If a product advertises SPF 30, its UVA protection must be at least 10. COLIPA (European Cosmetics Trade Association) requires that the UVA – PF should equal at least 1/3 the SPF as determined by the in-vivo PPD method or an equivalent degree of protection obtained by any in vitro method.
Love Sun Body 100% Natural Origin Mineral Sunscreens meeting the FDA OTC Monograph System, the European Commission’s recommendation on UVA protection and Health Canada Natural Health Products Regulations.