Here’s Why We Need To Get Burnt To Know Our Sunscreen Actually Works

Have you ever wondered whether your sunscreen is actually protecting you from sun damage? Well, you’re not alone which is why Dr Sophie Calabretto invited Cosmos journalist Ellen Phiddian onto The Science Briefing to tell us how it all works.

Scientists will spend hundreds of hours testing sunscreen on human subjects before it is approved for public use. Some of these tests include UV tests, pigmintation tests and water testing.

Volunteers are asked to sit in temperature controlled water for four hours to determine whether the sunscreen is water resistant and still offers the same protection after four hours submerged in water.

“Part of the testing process includes water resistance… In order to claim that a sunscreen is water resistant for four hours, you have to sit in water for four hours and still have the sunscreen working as well at the end of it,” Ellen said.

While this might seem like a gruelling experiment, scientists will also intentionally sunburn a volunteer’s skin to determine a sunscreen’s level of SPF.

Ellen takes us through the long list of tests our sunscreens are subjected to before making it to our shelves and eventually our bodies.

Tune into the full episode of The Science briefing with Dr Sophie Calabretto and guest star Ellen Phiddian below…