Nine out of 20 sunscreens tested by Consumer NZ did not provide the SPF protection that was specified on the label, according to a new study released today.
Cancer Society and Banana Boat were among the brands that failed the tests, which were conducted by two separate independent laboratories.
The Cancer Society Everyday Sun Lotion SPF50+ only showed a maximum of SPF30 - to claim SPF50+, a sunscreen must achieve SPF60 in lab testing, Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin pointed out.
"As a result of our findings, the Cancer Society said it's withdrawing the batch of the product we tested," she said in a statement.
"However, given the reports we have from two separate labs showing the sunscreen doesn't measure up to its claimed performance, we've asked it to recall all batches of this product."
Cancer Society spokesperson Mary Direen said in a statement that it had complied with the request to withdraw the batches, but remained confident that their sunscreen provides very high protection.
"The Cancer Society had its full sunscreen range independently tested at an FDA-approved, ISO registered laboratory this year - the results show all products exceed their SPF claims," Ms Direen said.
"However, for the product batch being withdrawn (Everyday Very High Protection Sun Lotion SPF50+ with Expiry Oct 2021), Consumer NZ’s results were significantly different.
"We would have preferred to retest the batch to prove its effectiveness, however that would take eight weeks so we’ve made the call to voluntarily withdraw the batch from retailers now.
"We remain 100% confident in the effectiveness of our sunscreen products because they are manufactured as a medicine in Australia and have been independently tested.
"I would like to reassure the public there is no health risk, because even at the lower level of SPF30 that batch still provides high protection."
Sunsense Ultra SPF50+, Banana Boat Dry Balance Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ and Marine Blue Australia Dry Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ didn’t meet their SPF claims, either.
The tests show the products only provide moderate protection.
Many companies - including the Cancer Society and Sunsense - tested their products at AMA Laboratories, a sunscreen-testing facility in the US, Ms Chetwin said.
"In August 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration announced AMA's owner had been charged with, and some staff had pleaded guilty to, falsifying test results from 1987 to April 2017,” Ms Chetwin said.
Ms Direen said that "AMA Laboratories were in the media recently for activity prior to 2017 - our testing was conducted in August this year".
"We have on file their ISO certificate, compliance certificate and FDA registration and have confidence in the tests results they have provided us with."
The brands that passed the test this year are:
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid SPF50+
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
- Nivea Sun Protect & Moisture Moisturising Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
- Smart365 Sun Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
- Oasis Sun Sport PA++++ SPF40
- Badger Sport Unscented Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream SPF35
- My Sunshine Natural Sunscreen + Antioxidants SPF30
- Solzinc Natural Sun Protection 30+
The brands that failed to meet their claims are:
- Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ A Touch of Mango and Papaya
- Invisible Zinc Face + Body Mineral Sunscreen SPF50
- Natio Suncare Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF50+
- Frankie Apothecary Natural Sunscreen + Kawakawa and Antioxidant SPF50
- MooGoo Natural Sunscreen SPF40
- Cancer Society Everyday Sun Lotion SPF50+
- Marine Blue Australia Dry Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
- Sunsense Ultra SPF50+
- Banana Boat Dry Balance Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
During a similar study last year, only four out of 19 brands meet their SPF requirements.
Appearing on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning, Consumer NZ's Ms Chetwin repeated calls for New Zealand to regulate the SPF of sunscreen products being sold here. Watch the full interview in the video above.