CANSA intermediates South African Sunscreen Products

An update on South African UVA and UVB testing standards for sun protection products with CANSA providing an auditing service for SPF products

The cancer association of South Africa (CANSA) has provided an intermediary seal of approval for Sun Protection Factor (SPF) products sold in South Africa since 1st April, 2013. This endeavour has been implemented successfully over the last two months with the new CANSA Sunsmart logo showing a product’s compliance in line with the new European Cosmetics Standards.

CANSA is a non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer; since 2005, all sunscreens with the CANSA Seal Of Recognition (CSOR) must have a minimum SPF of 20 and a maximum of 50 while providing broad-spectrum protection against UVA & UVB rays in a ratio of 0.4/1. The seal of approval shows that a product meets sunscreen standards as determined by the SABS (South African Board of Standards) – i.e. the SANS 1557 legislation which provides a basis for the evaluation of sunscreen products in accordance with performance criteria, specifying requirements for the advertising and labelling of said products – and by the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrance Association of South Africa (CTFA).

Past and present South African sun protection tests

Between 1992 and 2006, South African SPF testing was implemented under the SABS method which arose from the initial 1978 US FDA monograph. From 2006 to 2010, the South African testing standard for SPF moved to the International Method along with COLIPA (Europe), the JCIA (Japan), the SAA (Australia/New Zealand), and the MERCOSUR and ASEAN conglomerates to form the first globally accepted protocol. As of 2010, the standard furthered its development to the ISO 24444. The path for global compliance on testing for UVA protection (as opposed to UVB protection covered by the SPF value) has shown less widespread conformity with various global methods testing for UVA protection. CANSA have been aware of the recent skin cancer research highlighting the need for more effective UVA protection provided by sunscreen in terms of the mean critical UVA wavelength and the non-profit organisation believe the new Harmonized COLIPA (EU) UVA Protection Claim and the ISO 24443 methods to currently be the most stringent standards for sunscreen protection internationally. Whilst EU sunscreen manufacturers are compelled to be compliant through these tests, this was not the case under South African authority.

The SABS sunscreen standard now includes the ISO 24442, 24443 and 24444 methods

In 2011, CANSA undertook a watchdog campaign to obtain factual evidence to understand the extent to which locally and nationally created sunscreens complied with the COLIPA 2011 in vivo UVA testing method – this test set a higher requirement in respect of UVA protection than the SABS standard. The organisation performed this watchdog with the view to influence the industry to improve standards in adherence to the more stringent protocols. Since this point, the undisclosed test results have been used in ongoing discussions between CANSA and the sunscreen industry and formed the basis of negotiations motivating for changes and/or product improvements required to provide local consumers with optimal sunscreen protection at affordable prices – the SABS sunscreen standard now includes the ISO 24442, 24443 and 24444 methods as their preferred test methods as of April 2013. CANSA have implemented this level of protection approval through their new SunSmart logo which as of 1st April 2013 denotes that a sunscreen adheres to the EU COLIPA 2011 standard in an attempt to ameliorate the protection of the South African population against the sun’s rays.

CANSA continue to monitor the issues that have a causal or correlative links cancers and state their endeavour to oversee the rigour of sun protection industry for the benefit of the South African population.