Investigation underway after couple says they were severely sunburned despite using Cancer Society SPF 50+ sunblock

A kiwi couple have complained after they say they were severely sunburned despite using Cancer Society SPF 50+ sunblock according to directions on the tube.

Two days later, this man's sunburn is still severe and has affected his ability to sleep. Source: 1 NEWS

A man, who wished to remain anonymous, says he spent six hours in direct sun, but re-applied New Zealand Cancer Society SPF 50+ Everyday sunscreen every two hours.

But the resulting sunburn the camper suffered was so severe he had to take days off work and did not sleep for two nights.

He and his partner bought the sunscreen from a pharmacy as they embarked on a camping trip in New Zealand and applied it liberally, saying they used up the whole tube in the six hours they were outdoors.

They thought it was a reputable brand, but to their dismay they found themselves so badly burned they decided to make a complaint to the company.

"I would not recommend this product to anyone and thought I should post this so others don't make the same mistake," the man wrote on Reddit.

He and his partner have since been treating the damage with aloe vera from a plant at his home.

Mike Kernaghan, CEO of Cancer Society New Zealand, says they will be following up the complaint.

"The Cancer Society take sun protection very seriously," Mr Kernaghan said.

"Our sunscreen manufacturer voluntarily adheres to the AS/NZS 2604 Sunscreen Standard which has strict guidelines and rigorous testing mechanisms to maintain consistent levels of formulation quality."

The man was asked to send the tube back for testing, which he has.

"I have passed all this information as well as batch number to the Cancer Society so they can investigate and pull the product batch from the shelf if it is found to be substandard," he says.

Mr Kernaghan says the Cancer Society encourages all New Zealanders to protect themselves from the sun by being SunSmart and using the 'Slip, Slop, Slap.' motto.


Consumer New Zealand last month repeated calls for sunscreen to be regulated in New Zealand, saying its current treatment as a cosmetic product was not good enough in a country where 4000 melanoma cases are diagnosed each year.

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

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

Consumer NZ Chief Executive Sue Chetwin said at the time that "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.

"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.

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