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8 April 2021

Two more sunscreens fail SPF test

More sunscreens fail to provide the protection they claim.

Two more sunscreens have failed to meet their SPF label claims. One also failed the requirements for broad-spectrum protection. The results follow our 2020 test of 10 sunscreens, which found only five were up to standard.

In our latest test, Hamilton Active Family Sunscreen SPF50+ returned an SPF of 50. This is below the SPF60 required to make a 50+ claim. We tested another bottle of this sunscreen at a second lab, where it also failed to meet its label claim. The sunscreen provides high protection but not the SPF50+ claimed.

Key Pharmaceuticals, which owns the Hamilton brand, provided us with 2018 test results from a US lab to support its SPF50+ claim. The company said it had “no reason to doubt the integrity” of the results.

Neutrogena Beach Defence Water + Sun Barrier Lotion Sunscreen SPF50 returned an SPF of 36.5. It also failed to meet the requirements needed to make a broad-spectrum claim.

We tested another bottle of this sunscreen at a second lab, which also found it failed to meet its SPF50 claim. Of the 20 people this product was tested on across both labs, the SPF rating was below 50 in 17 cases.

Johnson & Johnson Pacific, which markets Neutrogena, said its sunscreens complied with the Australian and New Zealand sunscreen standard. The company provided 2012 test reports to support its SPF and broad-spectrum claims.

The company questioned our decision to send products to the labs “blind” – that is, decanted into unbranded containers. We stand by our decision and don’t believe our process raises any valid concerns.

It’s not the first time Neutrogena sunscreens have failed to meet SPF claims in our tests. We’ve previously lodged a complaint with the Commerce Commission as a result of our findings.

In December 2017, Johnson & Johnson New Zealand signed court-enforceable undertakings with the commission, agreeing that its sunscreens sold here would meet the standard.

In September 2016, the commission told the company to stop supplying its Neutrogena Sensitive Skin SPF60+ after testing found the product didn’t meet its SPF claim. Our testing also found this sunscreen failed to provide the claimed protection. Johnson & Johnson said it decided to discontinue the product in April 2016 for independent commercial reasons.

Our test

Our accredited labs tested the sunscreens following the methods in the Australian and New Zealand standard AS/NZS 2604:2012. Our samples were sent “blind” to the labs and packed according to their instructions. See the full test results here.

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