Sunscreen industry welcomes new SPF regulations in New Zealand as Sunscreen Safety Bill hits the shelves

Sunscreen brands are applauding the nationwide introduction of the Sunscreen Safety Bill on Thursday, legislation they say is long-overdue.

Passed in March this year, the Sunscreen Safety Bill - a regulation that has officially come into effect on Thursday - makes it mandatory, rather than voluntary, for sunscreen products to meet the AS/NZS 2604 Standard. The Standard tests for safety and efficacy, spanning primary sunscreen products, skincare with at least SPF15, and insect repellents with SPF4 or more.

Cosmetics New Zealand, the incorporated body representing sunscreens, has been campaigning for the introduction of mandatory regulation against the Standard for years, funding the national contribution to ensure sunscreens could be tested against a shared trans-Tasman benchmark long before regulation was formalised.

Angela Buglass, the chair of the Cosmetics New Zealand Board, said the new legislation means little change for brands that already sell their products in Australia - where the Standard has been mandatory for almost three decades.

"We've been advocating for this change for a long time, alongside dozens of sunscreen brands in this market, and for the majority it's business as usual as they already have been meeting this Standard for many decades, so it's a well-supported piece of legislation in the industry," Buglass said on Thursday.

"For Kiwi shoppers, we are very pleased they can now have absolute confidence that all sunscreens on shelves are tested uniformly and can be trusted when used properly."

Angela Buglass
Angela Buglass, the chair of the Cosmetics New Zealand Board, said the new legislation will still be business as usual for most brands. Photo credit: Supplied

Regulation and testing expert Garth Wyllie, who has sat on the AS/NZS 2604 Standard Committee for 16 years, said the processes brands must go through in order to meet SPF, broad spectrum and water resistance claims as outlined in the Standard are incredibly thorough.

"The process to create a sunscreen that meets the Standards is very robust, with many rounds of formulation and testing in independent external labs taking place before SPF confirmation and labelling even happens," he noted. 

The enforcement of the Sunscreen Safety Bill will be regulated under the Fair Trading Act.