Sunday, October 2, 2022

Seven out of eight sunscreens fail Consumer NZ’s latest SPF tests

Seven out of eight sunscreens put through their paces in Consumer NZ’s latest tests failed to live up to sun protection claims on their packaging.

In its second round of tests for the summer, the watchdog found Cancer Society Kids Pure Sun Lotion SPF50 was the only product which met its SPF label claim.

A sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) measures protection against UVB rays, and its broad-spectrum provides protection against UVA and UVB rays.

Seven sunscreens provided high SPF protection (SPF30 or higher) but didn’t meet their very high protection (SPF50+) label claim. To make a SPF50+ claim, a sunscreen must achieve an SPF of 60 or higher.

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All eight products met the requirements for broad spectrum protection.

The sunscreens which failed to meet their very high protection (SPF50+) claims were:

  • Woolworths Sunscreen Everyday Lotion SPF50+
  • Cancer Society Everyday Sun Lotion SPF50+
  • Invisible Zinc Sport Mineral Sunscreen SPF50+
  • Sun Bum Premium Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
  • Nivea Sun Kids Sensitive Sun Lotion SPF50+
  • Nivea Sun Protect & Moisture Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
  • Banana Boat Simply Protect Kids Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+

Consumer NZ senior writer Belinda Castles​ said companies were asked to provide evidence to support label claims.

Seven out of eight sunscreens failed to live up to their sun protection claims in Consumer NZ's latest tests.

iSTOCK

Seven out of eight sunscreens failed to live up to their sun protection claims in Consumer NZ’s latest tests.

Countdown, The Cancer Society, and the distributor of Invisible Zinc provided test results to support their products’ SPF50+ label claims.

In Consumer NZ’s 2020 sunscreen test, Cancer Society Everyday Sun Lotion SPF50+ met its label claim. The Cancer Society confirmed the formulation tested in these previous tests was the same as the batch tested by Consumer NZ.

“It’s not uncommon for there to be variation between our test results and the reports provided by companies,” Castles said.

“Companies are not required to regularly test their sunscreens to ensure different batches provide the claimed protection. Also, testing is conducted on humans, so there will always be some variability, and storage conditions can play a part. Sunscreens deteriorate over time, especially if kept in hot places.”

Sun Bum provided a technical report to substantiate its SPF claim. However, the conclusion was based on a test result for a sunscreen with the same quantities of active ingredients, but different preservatives, Consumer NZ said.

Beiersdorf, owner of the Nivea brand, told Consumer NZ which labs their sunscreens were tested at but declined to provide test reports or testing dates.

Banana Boat’s distributor also declined to provide a test report, saying Banana Boat Simply Protect Kids Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ had been discontinued and was unlikely to be widely available.

Consumer NZ published its first batch of sunscreen test results for the summer in December. Those results showed six out of nine products met their SPF and broad-spectrum protection label claims.

Broad-spectrum sunscreens provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Stuff

Broad-spectrum sunscreens provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Earlier this month, Parliament unanimously passed the Sunscreen Product Safety Standard Bill, putting sunscreen safety standards into the Fair Trading Act.

Under the new law, compliance with the Australian and New Zealand sunscreen standard will be mandatory.

Meeting the standard had previously been voluntary in New Zealand, meaning products sold here may not have been tested against their SPF rating.

When the act comes into effect in September, companies which breach the requirements could be fined up to $600,000.

While Consumer NZ supported the move, Castles said regulating sunscreen under the Fair Trading Act should be an interim measure only.

“Sunscreens should be regulated as a therapeutic product – not a cosmetic – to bring New Zealand protections in line with Australia,” she said.

“Complying with the standard isnt enough. Sunscreens should be tested regularly to ensure different batches provide the claimed protection, which the standard doesn’t require.”

“Our latest round of test results highlights the need for more frequent testing. Companies shouldn’t be able to rely on tests that are several years old to support their label claims.”

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