When it comes to sunscreens, we tend to put our trust in label claims and SPF (Sun Protection Factor) values, perceiving them to keep our skin protected from harmful UV rays. But here’s the thing: there is no global standard for SPF and each country defines its own sunscreen regulations. This means claims are up to the discretion of individual brands, following their local regulations, and SPF labels may not always be completely accurate.
In fact, a number of reports have surfaced in recent years revealing that SPF values on product labels are an ongoing problem. According to a 2016 report by Consumer Reports, which independently tested 65 sunscreens on the US market, 43% of sunscreens contain lower SPF than promised on their labels. In 2020, Consumer New Zealand reported similar findings, stating that 5 out of 10 sunscreens on the market don’t meet their SPF claims. Most recently, The Hong Kong Consumer Council suggests that a whopping 80% of sunscreens on the Asian market don’t live up to their labeled SPF efficacy, including products from Japan, Korea, and various Western countries.
European Sunscreen Regulations = Gold Standard
Since each country defines its own regulations and testing measures, safety standards can vary greatly. For example in the US, sunscreens are regulated as over-the-counter drugs due to their health-related claims. Yet EWG’s report reveals that while U.S. sunscreens are effective at protecting consumers against UVB rays (those that cause sunburn), they are less effective when it comes to UVA rays, which can contribute to more serious skin damage like aging and the development of melanoma (a type of skin cancer).
This could be down to the fact that there are currently around 16 approved UV protective ingredients on the US market (which have been used in sunscreens for years), yet only two – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – are classified as 100% safe and effective. For 12 out of 16 of these ingredients, there isn’t sufficient evidence to deem them effective at protecting against both UVA and UVB sun rays.
In contrast, Europe, which has rigorous cosmetics regulations, considers sunscreens to be a type of cosmetic, and European nations have access to 31 UV filtering ingredients, 7 of which are effective UVA filters. This means European manufactured sunscreens provide more adequate protection against both UVA and UVB rays, suggesting they are of a higher safety standard.
The Future of SPF: Transparency Is Key
For consumers, it’s important that sunscreens aren’t treated as a coat of armor or the only form of sun protection. Yet, considering it’s still an integral part of our daily routine, and the majority of SPF products fall short when it comes to adequate protection, we clearly need radical change to make them safer across the board.
While homogenizing regulations globally is easier said than done, it is possible to create a catalyst for change at the industry level. This means, as brands and manufacturers, we need to hold ourselves and each other accountable for increasing and normalizing independent and 3rd party testing and regularly publishing our findings for full transparency.
Yours’ Sunny Side Up Sunscreen is EU-Approved
With this in mind, we wanted to ensure we did things right when developing our own sunscreen, Sunny Side Up. We sourced the most advanced UV filters from the Swiss Alps which are proven to be effective at protecting against the sun’s harmful rays, and along with our own rigorous independent testing, we carried out 3rd party testing to further evaluate the efficacy of these ingredients.
After extensive research, we put our trust in Helioscience, a highly reputable independent laboratory based in France, that specializes in assessing the quality, safety, and efficacy of sun protection products. Following strict in vivo and in vitro testing, the lab results confirmed Sunny Side Up’s UVB protection value to be SPF33.9 – although we decided to market it as an SPF30 sunscreen, just to be extra safe.
Today, we’re officially publishing the results from these two separate tests with full transparency to provide accurate information about Sunny Side Up’s SPF claims. Click below to read the full reports:
In terms of ingredients, Sunny Side Up features five different UV filtering ingredients. The two hero active ingredients are Buddleja and Soliberine, which are extracted from Buddleja Butterfly Bush flowers found in the Swiss Alps. Growing in high altitudes, this flower has developed a natural ability to survive high solar radiation and thus is highly effective at protecting the skin against harmful UV rays, (including infrared and blue light from digital devices), as well as reinforcing the skin’s natural light barrier.
On top of that, it features Uvinul A Plus Granular, which helps prevent long-term skin damage and skin aging from ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. It also features PBSA and Uvinul MC80, two powerful ultraviolet B (UVB) absorbers that work to prevent the skin from burning.
It’s Time For More Transparency
Seeing as sunscreen is one of the most important steps to keep us protected from harmful UV rays, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t take action to make it safer for all. Independent and 3rd party testing for the safety and efficacy of sunscreens is now widely available to brands and manufacturers and should be a fundamental part of the research and development process. But transparency and accurate SPF claims are equally key.
As consumers, it’s also important for us to question label claims and marketing jargon before putting all our trust in them, and hold brands accountable if they clearly aren’t doing their due diligence or sharing things like ingredient reports and certifications. It’s on all of us to change the status quo for sunscreen safety and transparency and accountability are an important part of that change.
Navneet, Founder & CEO of Yours