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Big-brand sun cream fails Which? tests

Find out which sunscreen didn't offer the SPF it claimed

For the fourth year running, Which? has tested leading high-street sunscreen brands only to find that not all are living up to their SPF claims.

Fourteen sun creams were sent to our test lab, with thirteen of them passing our SPF and UVA tests. However, one sun cream failed our SPF test, so we’ve named it a Don’t Buy sun cream to avoid.

As well as checking the SPF and UVA of each product, we asked a panel of testers to assess how pleasant each product is to apply. Find out which sun creams won’t leave skin feeling sticky or greasy by heading straight to our Best Buy sun creams page.

The sun cream that failed our SPF test

Avon Sun+ Multi Protection Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF30 (150ml) didn’t pass our SPF tests, so we think it’s a sun cream to avoid. At £10 (or £6.67 per 100ml), it’s also the priciest product we tested, showing that price isn’t tied to quality in the world of sunscreens. Products that passed our tests cost as little as £1.50 per 100ml.

When we contacted Avon about our results, it told us it was confident in its own testing which showed the lotion to have SPF30, followed internationally recognised protocols and was conducted by external laboratories with specific expertise in the testing.

Richard Headland, Editor of Which?, said:

“As the summer holiday season approaches, anyone choosing and applying a sunscreen should be confident that it will help protect them from the sun’s rays. Sunscreens are a key part of sun safety so it’s important to pick a product you can rely on.

“It’s disappointing to see that, although most sunscreens passed our test, one didn’t provide the claimed level of protection. Manufacturers should only be selling products that live up to their claims, which is why Which? will continue to monitor and challenge the industry.”

Head to our Don’t Buy sun creams page to find out more.

Which? asks the sun cream industry to do more

While we’re pleased that the majority of sunscreens breezed through our SPF and UVA tests, there’s still more that we’d like to see the sunscreen industry to do to help ensure that consumers stay protected in the sun. Here are three of the reasons why:

Once a Day: stay away

In 2016, Which? tested four ‘once a day’ sunscreens to see whether they’d really keep you protected all day long. We found that none of them were up to the job – the average drop in SPF after 6-8 hours was 74% – that’s the equivalent of an SPF30 product dropping down to just SPF8. If you use a ‘once a day’ sun cream, you should reapply it regularly, as with any other sunscreen.

SPF claims are used on make-up

For any product to offer the SPF it claims, you need to apply 2mg per cm2 –this means around a teaspoon of product would need to be applied to your face. And it needs to be regularly reapplied, too. In reality most of us are unlikely to apply the amount of make-up required – in the case of foundation that would mean a 30ml bottle would only last six applications.

On-the-shelf monitoring isn’t compulsory

While manufacturers test their products before they go to market, they may not be tested again for years. Regular checking of the products on shop shelves isn’t compulsory. Right now, that’s where Which? comes in – but we’d like to see the industry being more proactive.

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