Cancer Society provides more sunscreen test results: No defects found

Following complaints from consumers claiming that they were burned despite using Cancer Society sunscreen correctly, the company has provided results of testing which found no fault with its product. 

The Cancer Society has defended its sunscreen, saying Kiwis simply not using enough, or using it incorrectly. Source: 1 NEWS Composite image

The organisation last month came under fire after consumers suggested they were burned despite using Cancer Society sunblock according to directions.

An Auckland mum complained about the brand's Kids Pure sunscreen after her eight-month-old daughter was burnt "beetroot red" while on a holiday to the Coromandel.

A spokesperson for the company said there have been 49 complaints made about its sunscreen this season - 11 about allergic reactions and 38 about sunburn.

Seven of the complaints were progressed to a formal process, which includes the products being tested by a lab - the rest were not investigated either because the consumer did not provide enough information, they didn't respond to communications, or they didn't provide a sample for testing.

The society provided the results of four of those tests to 1 NEWS last month - none showed any defect.

The society went on to say that none of the formal complaints investigated over the past six years had found an issue with the SPF label claims, or overall quality of the products.

Cancer Society today released the results of the other three tests to 1 NEWS, with none of those showing product defects either.

The first of the latest three complaints involved a case where a woman said her 21-year-old daughter was severely burned despite applying Everyday SPF50+ Lotion Spray three times over four hours while stand-up paddle boarding.

The lab report suggested that about 21g of product had been used in the three applications.

The recommended application, according to Australia's Cancer Council, is 35g per full-body application, or 7g per limb.

"21g was not enough product used ... this may have caused the sunburns," the report said.

In a second test result provided by Cancer Society, where a customer reported a severe burn despite using moisturising sunscreen SPF50+, the same cause was suggested - not enough of the sunscreen was used.

The third result was in relation to an allergic reaction to the product, with the laboratory recommending that a usage test should have been conducted before applying it to wider areas.

No defects were found in any of the three tested products.


The complaints have highlighted the number of people who suffer an allergic reaction to sunscreen products, which can contain multiple substances including fragrances, preservatives, UV blockers and other components.

Consumers are advised to be aware of this fact and to make sure they conduct a patch test on a small area of skin prior to using it widely.

Their products have a warning on the rear saying that a patch test should be carried out before use.

Sunscreen should be applied to a small area of skin on the inside of the forearm and left for at least a day to see if it causes redness, itchiness, irritation, bumps or other symptoms of a reaction - and avoided if it does.


"Sunscreen should be used to decrease exposure to UV radiation, not to increase the amount of time spent in the sun," the society advises on its website.

Sunscreen needs to be applied 20 minutes before you go out in the sun, to give it time to dry and absorb into the skin.

An average adult needs to use a teaspoon of product for each arm, their face, and at least a teaspoon each for legs, their chest and their back.

Sunscreen needs to be re-applied every two hours, and more often if you are sweating or in water.

The society advises against using sunscreen on infants, suggesting that shade and protective clothing is much safer, and also urges people to conduct an allergy patch test before using it.

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