Food Additives and Cosmetics

Risk-benefit assessment of use of sunscreen


Report no: 2022: 10

Published: 07.04.2022

Key message:

Sunscreen use protects against certain skin cancers and is beneficial for the general Norwegian population.

The evidence for harmful health effects of sunscreens was insufficient to determine risk. This is the conclusion of VKM on their risk-benefit assessment of sunscreen use.

UV filters

VKM also assessed risks of six selected UV filters that are among the most frequently used in sunscreens on the Norwegian market.

We concluded that the risk associated with the use of these UV filters are negligible, since the daily use of these UV filters is several times lower than the amounts that can cause harmful health effects, says Ellen Bruzell, who has been the scientific leader of the work.

These UV filters were evaluated: bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, 2-ethylhexylsalicylate, ethylhexyltriazone, octocrylene and titanium dioxide in nanoform. These UV filters are among the most frequently used in sunscreens sold in Norway.

UV filters are the active ingredients in sunscreen that attenuate UV radiation to the skin. The concentrations of the UV filters corresponded to or were lower than the limits in the EU cosmetics regulations.


Norway has a high incidence and mortality from skin cancer. Using sunscreen is one way to protect yourself. At the same time, there is a discussion about whether certain substances found in sunscreen can cause adverse health effects.

Sunscreens are legally regulated as cosmetic products in the EU, and only approved UV filters up to a maximum determined concentration are allowed in the ready-for-use preparation.

What has VKM done?

VKM has assessed the benefits and risks of using sunscreen, as well as the risk of six UV filters. The assessment was limited to products that can enter the body through the skin.

The assessment is based on scientific documentation up to 2020, which was selected after a systematic quality assessment.

VKM has taken the initiative for the risk-benefit assessment, which has been approved by VKM's Panel for food additives, flavourings, food packaging materials and cosmetics.


liten bilde av Gro Mathisen

Gro Mathisen

Project manager, PhD

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