Which? calls for sunscreen testing reviewSunscreen testing leaves consumers in the dark

21 May 2009

Asda Essentials sunscreen

Which? is calling for industry guidelines on sunscreen testing to be reviewed, following its annual sunscreen test.

  • UPDATE 16 May 2014: Our latest test of sun creams reveals three Don't Buys from big brands that failed our British Standard SPF test. Go to our sun creams review to find out more.

Industry guidelines on sunscreen testing allow sun lotion product tests to be carried out in different ways - which means two scientists could test the same sunscreen and come up with very different sun protection factor (SPF) results.

Four sunscreens labelled as SPF15 appeared to provide much lower UVB protection when tested by Which? for our annual sunscreens test - but some of the manufacturers maintain that under the rules, their products provide not only SPF15 but in some cases even greater protection than stated on their labels.

Which? Best Buy sunscreens

Asda’s Sun System Protection Lotion recorded an SPF of 24 when tested by Which? and at just £3 a bottle was highlighted as exceptional value.

Which? is calling for the industry guidelines to be reviewed, so that there is a consistent method of testing and certainty that two bottles of sunscreen with the same SPF label provide the same level of protection against burning.

Sunscreen safety

Martyn Hocking, Editor, Which?, says: 'Consumers’ health is at stake here. Sunburn is strongly linked to several types of skin cancer, so this situation needs to be sorted out urgently. 

'The fact that sunscreens with the same label can be tested in different ways means that they won't necessarily give the same level of protection, and that’s a problem if people assume they're interchangeable.

'We’re talking to manufacturers and to Colipa, The European Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association to ensure that the testing guidelines are reviewed as at the moment they are open to all sorts of interpretation. We all want people to be safe when they are in the sun, and consumers need to have confidence that the label on their sunscreen is a good guide to the protection they'll get.'

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