Broad Spectrum in a sunscreen refers to the coverage the sunscreen gives across a range of light wave lengths.
In the early days of sunscreen making, manufacturers concentrated on the UVB spectrum of light, which is the one that causes sunburn.
Scientists began to learn that protecting from UVA was just as important. This part of the spectrum from sunlight causes skin damage, and ultimately, skin cancer but it does not cause burning. This makes UVA coverage very important, and also hard to tell if the sunscreen has you covered.
Just “not burning” is not good enough to know that your skin is protected.
Regulation of Broad Spectrum in Australia and New Zealand
The AS/NZS 2604 is a shared standard with Australia and New Zealand. This Sunscreen Standard was updated in 2012 to include a “broad spectrum” definition and testing. This is one of the highest broad spectrum standards in the world.
It ties the UVA performance to the UVB performance in a ratio, so that sunscreens that meet this standard are balanced. This is important because it helps you use the UVB burning as an understanding of how protected your skin is.
Not all “broad spectrum” sunscreens mean the same thing. As of 2012, Europe, Australia and New Zealand share a definition of broad spectrum that is much stricter than many countries including the USA.
Although in New Zealand, the sunscreen standard is still voluntary, most mainstream NZ sunscreen brands have the ASNZ 2604: 2012 on label, but you need to check for it.
Zinc Oxide offers the best range of broad spectrum protection of any UV filter/reflector, other than good clothing (which is why we also recommend for you to wear smart clothes and hat in the high sun hours).
Broad Spectrum around the world
Government regulatory agencies around the world are working to catch up to the need for a sunscreen to protect across the spectrum of UVB and UVA light- there’s even more spectrum ranges and names, but we’ll keep it simple here.
This is US Environmental Working Group comments on the US FDA sunscreen standard as compared to the EU (and Australia and New Zealand).“The FDA considered a similar system for rating UVA, but instead, in 2011, set weak UVA protection rules that enable nearly every product to achieve a passing grade without reformulation, and permitted those products to advertise “broad spectrum” protection.”
“By all accounts, UVA protection remains a challenge for U.S.-made sunscreens. EWG analysis suggests that many products bearing the “broad spectrum” label could not be sold in Europe, where UVA protection must be at least one-third as strong as the labeled SPF value of the product. According to our modeling, only 3 percent of beach and sport sunscreens would fail the FDA critical wavelength test for broad spectrum protection. Yet we estimate that 49 percent of the more than 750 beach and sport sunscreens in our 2016 database pass the FDA broad spectrum test but would not pass the European UVA test.”
Environmental Working Group has been engaged in the sunscreen landscape for many years, working to educate and protect consumers. They have many articles on this topic.
There is no official regulatory definition for Natural and Organic Cosmetics.
As a result, there are many uses of the words Natural and Organic that have no foundation in truth. Companies know that you as the consumer want to feel good about the quality of the product you buy, and they help you have that feeling by putting words and images that suggest naturalness.
This marketing freedom and lack of integrity, called “greenwashing” leads to a confused consumer.
That’s where natural certification comes in. There are several standards in the world. We chose NATRUE because we feel the total commitment to the ideal, rather than the softer standards that allow companies a pretty certification seal. Again, more confusion for the consumer.
NATRUE: Our mission is to protect and promote natural and organic cosmetics to the benefit of consumers worldwide
“Pending a strict regulatory definition for natural and organic cosmetic products, NATRUE’s founding members, the pioneers and largest producers of authentic natural and organic cosmetic products in Europe, acknowledged the need for an international and independently certified standard setting rigorous and transparent label criteria to reassure consumers and assist producers. This initiative resulted in the launch of the NATRUE Label in 2008 and the creation of NATRUE’s Secretariat that same year.”
For you as a consumer, NATRUE gives you a quick and very robust reassurance that where you see their logo, that product has passed a rigorous examination process, and is the real thing. It gives you peace of mind that a product is TRULY Natural.
Every Goodbye is NATRUE certified. This is a big deal. We chose to undergo NATRUE’s audit process, which is administered here in New Zealand by BioGro, because they are one of the most stringent natural cosmetics certification in the world.
Some people, even within the natural products industry, questioned whether the effort and cost would be worth it. They suggested that the consumer was not yet ready to care about certification. Yet how else can we participate in the process of maturing the natural products industry?
NATRUE gives us an umbrella to tell our story in connection to other businesses that have made this same commitment.
Reef Safe is a topic that you may be hearing a lot lately.
Australia and New Zealand share a standard
Antioxidants are an important process that the skin uses to protect itself from environmental stress.