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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Consumer NZ

In Consumer NZ’s first round of sunscreen testing for summer, six products met their SPF and broad-spectrum label claims. Three products didn’t meet their claimed SPF protection – all repeat offenders from last year. Two of the three also didn’t meet broad-spectrum requirements.

“Our sunscreen test programme is still ongoing. Covid-19 lockdowns have affected the overseas labs we use. We’re expecting more results, including popular brands and children’s products, in February,” Consumer NZ senior writer Belinda Castles said.

The test assessed whether the sunscreens met their SPF (sun protection factor), and broad-spectrum protection claims. Both are important – a sunscreen’s SPF measures protection against UVB rays, and its broad-spectrum provides protection against UVA and UVB rays.

Sunscreens that met their SPF label claim and requirements for broad-spectrum protection are:

Cetaphil Sun Kids Liposomal Lotion SPF50+
Eau Thermale Avene Face & Body Lotion SPF50+
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Lotion Sunscreen SPF50+
UV Guard Max Sunscreen SPF50+
Reef Coconut Sunscreen Dry-Touch Lotion SPF50
Skinnies Sungel SPF30

The sunscreens that didn’t meet their SPF label claim are:

Natural Instinct Invisible Natural Sunscreen SPF30 (provides moderate protection). Met broad-spectrum requirements
Sukin Suncare Sheer Touch Facial Sunscreen Untinted SPF30 (provides moderate protection). Didn’t meet broad-spectrum requirements
Banana Boat Daily Protect Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ (provides high protection). Didn’t meet broad-spectrum requirements.

“We’re pleased that the majority of sunscreens met their claims in Consumer NZ’s first round of sunscreen testing. 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.

Sunscreens that did not meet claims in Consumer NZ’s independent testing
Banana Boat Daily Protect Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ got a result of 34.2 (high protection) in Consumer NZ’s test and failed to meet broad-spectrum requirements. When we tested the sunscreen last year, it didn’t meet its SPF50+ label claim (SPF 40.4). Its distributor, Edgewell Personal Care, told Consumer NZ it had 10-person test results from Eurofins Dermatest in Australia to back up its label claim. However, the company declined to provide the report. It said Consumer NZ’s test highlights the expected variability that exists when testing SPF and, in its view, this is not unusual and doesn’t invalidate on-pack SPF claims.

After failing Consumer NZ sunscreen testing in 2020, Sukin retested its sunscreen this year at UK lab PCR Corp. The 10-subject test report it provided supports its SPF30 claim.

The distributor of Natural Instinct told us its supplier had retested this sunscreen this year at a UK lab. To date, it has not provided the report.

Sun safety tips

A sunscreen is only one part of your defence against UV radiation. You should also cover up with suitable clothing (preferably UPF50+), a broad brimmed hat and UV protected sunglasses, and seek shade. When the sun’s rays are most intense, limit your time outside.
Look for sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or above, plus water resistance and broad-spectrum protection. The New Zealand Dermatological Society recommends SPF50+ for greater protection.
Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside.
Apply plenty – about two teaspoons for each leg, and one teaspoonful for each arm, your back, your front and your face (which includes your neck and ears). That adds up to about 45ml – or nine teaspoons – for a full-body application.
Ignore “once-a-day” claims. Sunscreen should be reapplied often – every two hours you’re outside.
Mopping up sweat or towelling dry reduces protection: apply another coat of sunscreen immediately.

Consumer NZ raised $55,000 through crowdfunding courtesy of 1177 generous donors who contributed to our crowdfunding campaign to test more sunscreens. This summer we will test 11 more sunscreens than our usual test programme, including popular brands and children’s products with more test results landing in the new year.

About Consumer

Consumer NZ is a non-profit organisation, with 60 years of helping New Zealanders get a fairer deal. In addition to our product tests, we investigate consumer issues and campaign to improve consumer rights. We don’t take advertising. Our work is mainly funded by our members and supporters.