Sun creams ‘protect less than they claim’

A new French study into sun creams has put into question how much consumers can trust the factor given on the front of the bottle.

Sun creams 'protect less than they claim'
Photo: Andy (Mooby)

Research lead by the University of Nantes has found that nearly one in three sun creams tested offered a lot less protection than the factor given by the manufacturer.

A few sun creams claiming to offer factor 60 protection were found to in fact only give about a factor 30, for example.

Researchers say this may be the case because of the anti-inflammatory element in the lotions.

When tested on human skin, the anti-inflammatory delays the development of redness, which allows manufacturers to give it a higher factor. But a delay in visible burning does not mean the user is getting a higher level of protection.

Speaking daily national paper La Libération, one researcher tried to explain this occurrence.

“Pressure from organic lobby groups means manufacturers are looking to replace the biological filters traditionally used in sun creams… And it is impossible to get high factors of protection with [the replacement filters],” said Laurence Coiffard.

But sun lotion manufacturers vehemently deny their product is not up to scratch, and claim the research is “not validated by any authority”.

The method used by the university is not yet recognised by any regulating body, despite being used in this study on sun creams for the past 10 years.

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France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.