7 Dec 2021

Buyer beware: These sunscreen brands don't live up to claims

7:47 am on 7 December 2021

Three sunscreen brands have failed to meet their own sun protection claims, Consumer New Zealand has found.


Sunscreen Photo: RNZ

Out of the nine sunscreens tested, six met their SPF label claim and requirements for broad-spectrum protection.

Cetaphil Sun Kids Liposomal Lotion, UV Guard Max, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Lotion, Eau Thermale Avene Face & Body Lotion, all of which are SPF50+, passed.

Reef Coconut Sunscreen Dry-Touch Lotion SPF50 and Skinnies Sungel SPF30 also passed testing.

Natural Instinct Invisible Natural Sunscreen SPF30, Sukin Suncare Sheer Touch Facial Sunscreen Untinted SPF30 and Banana Boat Daily Protect Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ did not meet their label claims.

The three brands also failed Consumer NZ's testing last year.

Banana Boat's SPF50+ got a result of 34.2 SPF, and failed to meet broad-spectrum requirements.

Broad-spectrum sunscreens filter both UVA and UVB rays, which both contribute to skin cancer risk.

Sukin Suncare's Sheer Touch Facial Sunscreen also failed both it's SPF30 and broad-spectrum claims.

Natural Instinct's Invisible Natural Sunscreen met broad-spectrum requirements, but failed its SPF rating.

Consumer NZ senior writer Belinda Castles says while the sunscreens might still offer protection, it's an issue if it's not as much as the brand claims.

"It's important that New Zealanders can make informed choices this summer and trust label claims. The Australian and New Zealand sunscreen standard is voluntary in New Zealand, which means products sold here could meet other standards - such as those in the US or EU - or may not have been tested at all," Castles said.

Some sunscreens are still being tested by Consumer NZ, as lockdown restrictions have delayed some procedures.

A members bill was drawn earlier this year to address some of these concerns.

It would require the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to recommend the setting of mandatory regulations under the Fair Trading Act, prescribing a safety standard for sunscreen products.

It's a step in the right direction, but Consumer NZ doesn't believe it goes far enough.

"Ideally, we'd like sunscreen to be classified as a therapeutic product, like they are in Australia, and for there to be further requirements regarding regular testing," Castles said.

"There is movement in this regulation space, but it's taking a very long time and we think it needs to be urgently addressed."

The bill is due to go before Parliament again after it passed its second reading on 10 November.

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