Consumer NZ finds many sunscreens don't meet their label claims

Consumer New Zealand says of the 10 sunscreens it tested in its latest round, only four met the claims made on the bottle.

Sunscreen being applied to child (file picture). Source:

One product - Coola Classic Body Sunscreen Plumeria SPF30 - only gave an SPF of 6, despite claiming to be SPF30.

Five other products claims to be either SPF50 or 50+ - but gave results of between 16 and 42.

Consumer NZ Chief Executive Sue Chetwin said "while these SPF ratings mean the sunscreens still provide moderate or high protection, our testing found they don’t provide the protection claimed on the label.

"There's no requirement for sunscreen manufacturers to regularly test ... but that's what they should be doing to ensure their products continue to provide the protection claimed."

Four of the manufacturers of the failed products provided lab tests to Consumer NZ showing they met their label claims - but two reports dated from 2015 and Coola's report dated from 2013.

Coola is now commissioning a review of their formula.

During consumer NZ's 2017 round of testing, just nine of twenty sunscreens met the claims made on the label.

Ms Chetwin said it is time for New Zealand to adopt legislation which regulates sunscreen SPF.

"New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer and melanoma in the world but the sunscreen standard remains voluntary," she said.

The Ministry of Health is currently working on legislation to regulate therapeutic product, but no decision has been made on whether that category will include suncreens.


Nivea Sun Kids Protect & Sensitive Sun Lotion SPF50+
UV Guard Max Sunscreen SPF50+
Essone Natural Sunscreen Summer Coconut & Jojoba SPF30
Smart365 Sun Sunscreen Lotion Kids SPF50+


Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face & Body Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF50
Bondi Sands Coconut Beach Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
Banana Boat SunComfort SPF50+
Sunsense Sensitive Invisible SPF50
Coola Classic Body Plumeria SPF30

Consumer New Zealand expanded on the testing and provided responses from each of the suppliers on their website here.


• Look for sunscreens with an SPF of at least 30+, plus water resistance and broad-spectrum protection.
• Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside.
• Apply plenty – about one teaspoonful (5ml) for each arm, each leg, your back, your front and your face (which includes your neck and ears). That adds up to about 35ml 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.

A spokesperson at Johnson & Johnson New Zealand says: 

At Johnson & Johnson New Zealand, our priority is to deliver safe, effective, high-quality products to our consumers, and we take this responsibility very seriously. Every product in our NEUTROGENA® sunscreen range sold in New Zealand has been tested against and proven to comply with the requirements of the Australian and New Zealand sunscreen standard AS/NZS 2604:2012.

We stand confidently by the label claim of SPF50 on the NEUTROGENA® Ultra Sheer Face & Body Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF50. This claim is substantiated by independent test results conducted on this product formulation by a highly qualified, experienced and credible research laboratory that meets our rigorous standards.  Consumers can continue to rely on NEUTROGENA® products to provide the gold standard in sun care.