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Popular sun creams fail strict Which? SPF tests

Five new Best Buy sun creams also recommended

2015 Dont Buy sun creams

These sun creams from Hawaiian Tropic and Boots failed our SPF tests

New Which? tests have revealed that two leading sun creams are failing to deliver the SPF claimed on their packaging. 

We tested 13 sun creams with a claimed SPF of 30 from popular brands including Nivea and Piz Buin, as well as own-brand products from supermarkets including Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. 

Two products twice failed our SPF tests: Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise Lotion SPF30 (200ml) and Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion SPF30 (180ml).

Head straight to our full sun cream test results to discover the Best Buy sun creams Which? does recommend.

The sun creams that failed Which? tests

We used strict British Standard tests to assess whether the sun creams offer the SPF claimed on the label, as well as the protection provided against UVA. 

SPF gives an indication of the level of protection against UVB, the type of ultraviolet radiation that is the main cause of sunburn, while UVA is associated with premature ageing of the skin. Both UVB and UVA have been implicated in the development of skin cancer.

Where a product failed either of these tests, we then retested a second batch.

Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise Lotion SPF30 (200ml) and Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion SPF30 (180ml) both twice failed our SPF tests, offering just two-thirds of the SPF they claimed. We don’t think you can rely on products which have failed our tests to provide the level of protection you’d expect, so we’ve named them Don’t Buys.

We contacted both Boots and Hawaiian Tropic about our results. Both manufacturers told us that they conduct their own testing of their products and they stand by the products’ SPF claims.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said ‘Consumers must be able to trust and rely on the information provided by manufacturers so it’s disappointing to see well-known brands falling short. We want them to take action to ensure their products deliver the promised protection.’

Find out more about the products that have failed our tests on our sun cream Don’t Buys page.

Sun scream on a hand

Out of 13 sun creams we tested, five earned our Which? Best Buy recommendation

Best Buy sun creams

As well as testing the SPF and UVA protection of each sun cream, we asked a panel of triallists to assess how each sun cream felt, looked and smelled on the skin, as well as how easy it was to get out of the bottle. 

In total, 11 sun creams passed our SPF and UVA tests and, of these, five were rated so highly by our panel that we’ve named them sun cream Best Buys. 

These Best Buys are not only effective protection against the sun, they are pleasant to use too. And our results prove that a brilliant sunscreen does not have to be an expensive one – more than one of the Best Buys are affordable own-brand products.

Preventing skin cancer

In response to our findings, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager Dr. Claire Knight said: ‘In the UK more than eight in 10 skin cancers could be prevented by enjoying the sun safely and not getting sunburnt.’

‘The SPF and star rating are the two most important things to look out for when choosing sunscreen so, whichever brand you choose, it’s vital you can trust the information given on the bottle. 

‘Using sunscreen isn’t the only way to protect your skin from strong sun. Covering up with a shirt, hat and sunglasses and spending time in the shade are the best ways to reduce the risk of sunburn and skin cancer.’

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