Feb 17

The sunscreen scandal: Euroconsumers meets with the Commission

Brussels 17 February 2020 - The executive branch of the European Union has invited our member organisation Test Achats, together with our umbrella organization BEUC, to participate in a session with the Working Group on Cosmetic Products.

Starting in 2016, Euroconsumers led, alongside four other European associations, a four-year-long investigation into around 120 sunscreen products sold throughout Europe. The purpose of our research was to ascertain whether the most popular sunscreen products complied with their advertised UV protections. 

Unfortunately, our findings were rather troubling. Our research showed that 15% of tested products failed to meet their respective UV protections. For example, brands such as BABARIA, RILASTIL and ISDIN all failed to meet their advertised SPF level. The ISDIN case was the most alarming. We found that the brand, which promised a solar protection factor of 50+, actually delivered a protection of 15. 

As a result, in May 2019, our member organisations (Test Achats/Test Aankoop, Deco Proteste and Altroconsumo and OCU) began informing the relevant authorities of the ISDIN case. Despite having robust research to support our claims, national authorities repeatedly dismissed our findings arguing that the ISO method we used (which is the officially recognised standard), is notorious for producing discrepant results. 

After several months of back and forth, we managed to pressure ISDIN to voluntarily recall its products in Spain, Portugal and Belgium. Yet ISDIN is still available in Italy, as is the case with RILASTIL. Likewise, BABARIA is still available in the Spanish market. Moreover, the products were only recalled after the summer season, the most critical time of year in the market for sunscreen products. 

The diverging treatment of harmful sunscreen products across the European market is of the utmost concern for Euroconsumers. Furthermore, it is a travesty that the hitherto official ISO test for sunscreen products is deemed inadequate by public authorities in the European Union. 

Our ongoing dialogue with national authorities has sparked the interest of the European Commission. The executive branch of the European Union has invited our member organisation Test Achats to participate today in a session with the Working Group on Cosmetic Products to discuss a way forward for the testing of sunscreen products in the single market.