2018 report on compliance monitoring: Sunscreen testing

We tested 27 sunscreen products sold in Canada. Learn about our findings and how we conducted our review.

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Why sunscreens were tested

In May 2017, following a number of media reports of skin reactions suspected of being associated with the use of Banana Boat sunscreen products, Health Canada received a higher than expected number of Adverse Event Reports.

In response to the initial reports of skin reactions, Health Canada tested a number of Banana Boat sunscreen products and also reviewed testing conducted by the company that manufactures these products. No serious concerns with product quality were found and the products contained the medicinal ingredients that were listed on the label in the correct amounts.

Given the number of the reports of adverse events reported in 2017, Health Canada also tested a broader range of sunscreen brands, with a focus on products labelled for use in children. This additional testing complements Health Canada's comprehensive scientific and clinical safety review of sunscreens and the risk of skin reactions. The results of this review will be posted on Health Canada's website when available.

What sunscreen products were tested

In Canada, sunscreens are subject to the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and its regulations. Sunscreens are classified as non-prescription drugs or natural health products, depending on their active ingredients. They require marketing authorization in the form of an eight digit Drug Identification Number (DIN) or a Natural Product Number (NPN) that can be found on the product label.

Our testing focused on the types of sunscreens that were associated with the adverse events reported to Health Canada and in the media. These products are classified as non-prescription drugs and have been authorized by Health Canada. These sunscreens contain a chemical UV filter with ingredients such as octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone or avobenzone. Chemical UV filter sunscreens work by absorbing UV radiation and converting it to heat energy. In contrast, sunscreens authorized as natural health products have been issued a Natural Product Number (NPN) by Health Canada and provide a physical barrier to help block UV rays.

We obtained 27 different sunscreens authorized with DINs from various companies with a focus on products used in children and tested each of them in Health Canada laboratories. Of the products tested, a large number (18) are marketed for use in children, kids or babies. In addition, nine sunscreens for use in adults were tested.

Sunscreen product testing performed

Our testing verified whether the sunscreens were within an acceptable pH (acidity) range, meaning close to the natural pH of the skin, for products used on the skin and whether they contained:

  • the drug ingredients and the amount of active ingredient as listed on the product label
  • drug ingredients not listed on the product label
  • the preservatives methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone, ingredients known to cause skin reactions
  • microbial contaminants

Findings

Health Canada's testing did not identify any serious concerns with product quality. Health Canada's safety review of sunscreen ingredients and the risk of skin reactions is ongoing. Its focus is on suspected cases of skin reactions, including those cases reported by consumers as burns, rashes and/or other skin reactions. Factors that may contribute to the reactions reported in 2017 could include a person's health conditions or other health products they are using at the same time, the way in which the product was used, or previous exposure to similar products or ingredients.

Of the sunscreens tested:

  • The pH range of all products was found to be close to the skin's natural pH level.
  • All contained the amount of active ingredient listed on the product label.
  • None of the products had the preservatives methylisothiazolinone or methylchloroisothiazolinone.
  • None of the products contained microbial contaminants above the allowable levels.

We encourage the use of sunscreens to protect against harmful UV radiation. Get useful sun safety tips: for parents and general safety tips.

Follow up actions

Health Canada's safety review of sunscreen products and risk of skin reactions is ongoing. The Department's safety reviews consider information obtained from various sources, such as adverse event reports, peer-reviewed scientific journals, foreign regulatory agencies and manufacturers. Once complete, the summary report will be posted on our website.

Health Canada will continue to work with its domestic and international partners to assess any new adverse reactions as they occur and conduct further testing as required. Should Health Canada determine that there is a safety concern associated with any sunscreen products sold in Canada, it will take action and inform Canadians.

How to report a complaint

We want to hear from you if you have a complaint about a sunscreen or other health product. Report it by using the health product complaint form.

Adverse reactions can be reported to Canada Vigilance using the online reporting form.

Sunscreen Products Tested by Health Canada

Atoma Kids Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 50+

Product name: Atoma Kids Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 50+
DIN: 02398044
Product Licence holder: Prime Enterprises Inc.

Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30

Product name: Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30
DIN: 02283751
Product Licence holder: Johnson & Johnson

Banana Boat Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60

Product name: Banana Boat Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60
DIN: 02430207
Product Licence holder: Edgewell

Banana Boat Kids Free Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+

Product name: Banana Boat Kids Free Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+
DIN: 02440849
Product Licence holder: Edgewell

Banana Boat Sport Performance with Powerstay Technology Sunscreen Spray SPF 30

Product name: Banana Boat Sport Performance with Powerstay Technology Sunscreen Spray
SPF 30
DIN: 02422352
Product Licence holder: Edgewell

Banana Boat Sport Performance with Powerstay Technology Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+

Product name: Banana Boat Sport Performance with Powerstay Technology Sunscreen Spray
SPF 50+
DIN: 02422360
Product Licence holder: Edgewell

Banana Boat Sport Performance with Powerstay Technology Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

Product name: Banana Boat Sport Performance with Powerstay Technology Sunscreen Lotion
SPF 30
DIN: 02423545
Product Licence holder: Edgewell

Coppertone General Protection Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60

Product name: Coppertone General Protection Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60
DIN: 02314703
Product Licence holder: Bayer

Coppertone Kids Continuous Spray SPF 60

Product name: Coppertone Kids Continuous Spray SPF 60
DIN: 02315041
Product Licence holder: Bayer

Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion SPF 8

Product name: Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion SPF 8
DIN: 01931199
Product Licence holder: Bayer

Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion SPF 15

Product name: Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion SPF 15
DIN: 02330806
Product Licence holder: Bayer

Coppertone Sport Continuous Spray Accuspray Sunscreen SPF 30

Product name: Coppertone Sport Continuous Spray Accuspray Sunscreen SPF 30
DIN: 02315564
Product Licence holder: Bayer

Coppertone Waterbabies Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60

Product name: Coppertone Waterbabies Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60
DIN: 02314681
Product Licence holder: Bayer

Equate Kids Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60

Product name: Equate Kids Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60
DIN: 02359936
Product Licence holder: Fruit of the Earth Inc.

KINeSYS Kids Alcohol-Free Performance Sunscreen Spray SPF 30

Product name: KINeSYS Kids Alcohol-Free Performance Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
DIN: 02375788
Product Licence holder: WILC Healthcare Inc.

Life Brand Kids Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 50+

Product name: Life Brand Kids Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 50+
DIN: 02447533
Product Licence holder: Fruit of the Earth Inc.

Neutrogena Beach Defense Kids Sunscreen Spray SPF 60

Product name: Neutrogena Beach Defense Kids Sunscreen Spray SPF 60
DIN: 02420953
Product Licence holder: Johnson & Johnson

Neutrogena Cooldry Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60

Product name: Neutrogena Cooldry Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60
DIN: 02425033
Product Licence holder: Johnson & Johnson

Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray SPF 60

Product name: Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray SPF 60
DIN: 02354853
Product Licence holder: Johnson & Johnson

Ombrelle Kids Lotion SPF 45

Product name: Ombrelle Kids Lotion SPF 45
DIN: 02268736
Product Licence holder: Ombrelle Canada

Ombrelle Kids Water Resistant Lotion SPF 30

Product name: Ombrelle Kids Water Resistant Lotion SPF 30
DIN: 02268744
Product Licence holder: Ombrelle Canada

Ombrelle Kids Water Resistant Lotion SPF 50+ Kids Lotion

Product name: Ombrelle Kids Water Resistant Lotion SPF 50+ Kids Lotion
DIN: 02420368
Product Licence holder: Ombrelle Canada

President’s Choice Kids’ Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 50 

Product name: President’s Choice Kids’ Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 50
DIN: 02448556
Product Licence holder: Fruit of the Earth Inc.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Kids Children Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

Product name: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Kids Children Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
DIN: 02433052
Product Licence holder: Laboratoires La Roche-Posay Canada

Sunzone Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60

Product name: Sunzone Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60
DIN: 02395894
Product Licence holder: Empack Spraytech Inc

Sunzone Kids Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+

Product name: Sunzone Kids Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
DIN: 02395983
Product Licence holder: Empack Spraytech Inc

Sunthera3 Kids Wet & Dry Sunscreen SPF 60

Product name: Sunthera3 Kids Wet & Dry Sunscreen SPF 60
DIN: 02404613
Product Licence holder: Prime Enterprises Inc.

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