Alyssa Case has always been vigilant about sun protection. With a fair complexion and first-hand experience of losing a family member to melanoma, she was aware that the cancer wasn't one that only affected older people.
The young mother lost her 23-year-old cousin to melanoma a decade ago, which made her determined to stay vigilant and educate others about sun protection. Despite her efforts, at age 28 she was diagnosed with melanoma after discovering a mole on her face, while 15-weeks pregnant.
“I was extremely fortunate. My melanoma was caught at stage 1, which is super lucky. I could act quickly. That said, the diagnosis an absolute shock. As a little kid I had fair skin and white-blonde hair, so I was a perfect case study for melanoma. For those reasons I've always aimed to be as protected as possible and to monitor moles. Despite this, melanoma was found next to my ear,” Alyssa said.
"The harshness of the sun in New Zealand is no laughing matter. For that reason, it absolutely boggles my mind that we can't have full trust in the SPF labelling on sunscreens. When I heard that some companies are failing to meet their SPF claims, I felt really angry. We can't be taking chances when it comes to protecting ourselves and our families.
"I want to protect myself, and my family. It seems weird that you could sell a sunscreen as SPF 50, when it technically isn't."
For more than a decade Consumer NZ has undertaken independent sunscreen testing, finding routine failures of SPF labelling. In the organisation’s latest round of testing, more than half of the sunscreens failed to meet their claims.
Consumer NZ is launching a crowdfunding campaign, seeking $50,000 within eight weeks to test more sunscreens.
"An estimated 500 New Zealanders die of skin cancer every year – that's more than our annual road toll. We think everyone deserves sunscreen they can trust, because we’re all vulnerable to New Zealand’s harsh sun," Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said.
"The more money we raise, the more sunscreens we can test. It costs around $5000 per sunscreen and 100% of donations raised will go towards funding more sunscreen tests. The results will be free and available to all from December."
Unlike Australia, there is no mandatory standard for sunscreens here, so manufacturers don't have to regularly test their sunscreens to ensure they meet claims. This means products sold in New Zealand could meet US or EU standards, or may not have been tested at all.
Donate to Consumer NZ's sunscreen crowdfunding campaign: https://www.consumer.org.nz/articles/sunscreens-campaign/donate