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Sunscreen labelling

You may have heard about the recent survey conducted in the UK by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), which highlights confusion amongst adults over the protection ratings labelled on sunscreens.

CTPA shares the concerns of the RPS over the outcome of its survey on the important issue of sun protection.

Dr Emma Meredith, Director General at CTPA and a qualified pharmacist, says:

"CTPA welcomes the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's survey into the public's understanding of how to use sunscreens and is concerned that the report shows there is apparent confusion over labelling. We look forward to working with the RPS and pharmacists to create better awareness of how we can all protect against the sun's damaging rays."

Manufacturers currently label sun protection products according to an EU-wide classification, testing and labelling system recommended by the European Commission. As with all claims made by cosmetic products, SPF (indicating the protection from the sun's UVB rays) and UVA claims must be backed up by robust data. Across Europe UVA protection is indicated by the letters 'UVA' in a circle.


The UVA logo is used throughout Europe to show that a product contains at least the recommended minimum level of UVA protection for a sunscreen. We should always choose a sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection and this is recommended by the European Commission. Some companies in the UK also follow the star rating system, which provides additional information for consumers on UVA protection.

The information from the RPS report will be a useful addition to the discussions at European level reviewing the current labelling system, in which the cosmetics industry is already involved.

We would urge people to seek advice on the best sunscreen for their skin either by asking their pharmacist or from other authorities, including Cancer Research UK and the British Association of Dermatologists at their SunSmart and SunAwareness websites.

When choosing a sun protection product it is best to aim for one of SPF 15 or greater, that contains UVA protection (indicated by the UVA in a circle symbol), that is water-resistant and has an application method that suits your needs; always follow the product instructions for best protection but remember never use sunscreens to stay longer in the sun.

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