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26 November 2021

Consumer NZ - Nearly one in five New Zealanders get sunburnt most years

A new nationally representative survey from Consumer NZ has found that nearly one in five New Zealanders get sunburnt most years.

The research looked at how sun smart New Zealanders are, what’s important to them when buying sunscreen and whether they think current sunscreen standards are sufficient. The majority support a mandatory sunscreen standard and regular testing requirements.

Approximately half of New Zealanders often or always wear sunscreen (53 percent) and cover up with suitable clothing (48 percent). Two-thirds (67 percent) read sunscreen labels before buying.

“It’s crucial for New Zealanders to be able to make informed sunscreen purchasing decisions, so they can get adequate protection from the harsh effects of the sun. But our research has found that New Zealanders lack trust in sunscreen labelling. Only 37 percent of shoppers agree they can trust them,” Belinda Castles, Consumer NZ research writer said.

Consumer NZ has been calling for a mandatory sunscreen standard and testing requirements to ensure New Zealanders can trust what’s on the labels.

“Our research found consumers back this call. Eighty-three percent of New Zealanders want the government to make a sunscreen standard mandatory and nine out of 10 think sunscreen companies should be required to regularly test products.”

A private member’s bill is currently before the house which, if passed, would require sunscreen manufacturers to comply with the Australian and New Zealand standard, but falls short of requiring regular product testing.

Price ranked as the third most important factor when purchasing a sunscreen - after SPF protection and broad-spectrum protection. However, the cost of sunscreen is a major barrier for some New Zealanders, with 60 percent thinking sunscreens are too expensive.

Consumer NZ’s tips for staying protected from the sun
A sunscreen is only one part of your defence against UV radiation and shouldn’t be used on its own. You should also cover up with suitable clothing, a broad-brimmed hat and UV-protective 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.
  • 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 (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.