10 June 2022

Three more sunscreens fail to meet SPF claims

If you’re hitting the slopes, use sunscreen you can trust.

Whether you’re considering hitting the slopes or going for a tropical winter holiday, it’s important to ensure you’ve got the right sun protection. The results are in for the final four sunscreens in our latest round of testing. Only one – Smart365 Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ – met its claimed SPF protection.

The remaining three failed to meet their claims.

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration SPF50+ only achieved an SPF of 29.2 (moderate protection) in our test. Its distributor, Edgewell Personal Care, told us all its sunscreens adhere to the Australian and New Zealand sunscreen standard and its independent test results show this sunscreen not only meets but exceeds its SPF50+ claim.  

Neutrogena Beach Defence Sunscreen Lotion SPF50 (tested SPF 38.5) provided high protection but didn’t meet its SPF50 label claim. Manufacturer Johnson & Johnson Pacific told us it rejects the findings and stands confidently by its SPF50 label claim. The company said every Neutrogena sunscreen sold in New Zealand has been tested against and complies with the requirements of the Australian and New Zealand standard. 

Oasis Sun Healthy Family Sunscreen SPF30 (tested SPF 25.6) only provided moderate protection, not the high protection claimed. It also failed to meet the requirements for broad-spectrum protection. Its parent company, Moa’s Ark Group, said it believes the product meets its label claims.  

“There is still a need for sunscreen manufacturers to be held accountable and be subject to regular testing,” Consumer researcher Belinda Castles said.

“Our latest round of sunscreen testing looked at 21 sunscreens, of which only eight met their SPF label claim and the requirements for broad-spectrum protection.

“With the highest rates of melanoma in the world, New Zealanders deserve to shop with confidence. We’ll be lodging a complaint with the Commerce Commission about our findings.”

Sun safety tips 

  • Look for sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or above, plus water resistance and broad-spectrum protection. The New Zealand Dermatological Society (NZDSI) 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 while you’re outside.  
  • Mopping up sweat or towelling dry reduces protection, so apply another coat of sunscreen immediately. 

The NZDSI said 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 (preferably UPF50+), a broad-brimmed hat and UV-protective sunglasses, and seek shade.

Limit your time outside when the sun’s rays are most intense – between 10am and 4pm from September to April, or when the ultraviolet index (UVI) is greater than three. It’s also important to be sun smart when you’re at the snow, because snow is highly reflective.

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Which sunscreens can you trust?

Eight of 21 sunscreens in our latest test didn’t provide the SPF protection claimed.

View test results

Member comments

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Bill H.
11 Jun 2022
Tested against which standard?

Two suppliers claim to meet NZ and Australian standards. So what is the standard that they choose? How different is it from the onerous, but publicly known and accepted one that Consumer uses? . . . and which standard best mimics NZ beach and snow conditions?
Bill Horton, Hamilton