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Once-a-day sun cream: why you should think twice before you buy it

Preparing for the sunny weekend? Watch out for the products that might not protect you as much as you think

Once-a-day sun cream: why you should think twice before you buy it

If you’re slapping on the sun cream this weekend, chances are you might be choosing one that promises you only need to apply it once a day.

But what you might not know is that that sun cream doesn’t need to meet a specified standard to get that once-a-day label added to it.

That means there’s no industry-wide test that bottle of once-a-day sun cream needs to pass to prove that it will give you the protection it says on the bottle, all day.

Dramatic drop-off in sun cream SPF

What’s more, when we tested once-a-day sun creams to see how well they actually lasted, we saw an average 74% decrease in SPF protection at the end of our tests. This means that an SPF30 sun cream could drop down to SPF8 six to eight hours later.

Read more on our once-a-day sun creams testing and results. 

There is no British Standard designed to test once-a-day sun creams. The two main test standards that exist for sun creams apply to all products, including those that you would re-apply every few hours while in the sun, as well as once-a-day single-application versions, which might rub off on a sun lounger, when you slip on a t-shirt or following a dip in the pool.

Manufacturers tell us that they carry out multiple tests to be able to make the once-a-day claim, but there’s no set standard for all of them to follow.

We’ve been investigating other everyday items on sale where we don’t think the British standards they’re tested to go far enough. Which? members can read up on what we discovered on child car seats, smoke alarms and capacitors in the May 2018 edition of the magazine.

But if you need to buy a new home for that cold beer this weekend, don’t go shopping without reading our fridge freezer safety alert.

Fridge freezer safety alert

Refrigeration appliances are currently built to a standard that allows for their backs to be made of plastic. But our research shows that this kind of backing material can lead to fire spreading more rapidly. When we tested how quickly fridge, freezer and fridge freezer backs burned, we found that those made of metal or aluminium laminate didn’t catch fire, after being exposed to what’s known as a ‘needle’ flame, during our 30-second test.

In fact, fridges with this type of backing (of less than 1mm thick) were able to withstand an open flame for a full five minutes. But in a worrying contrast, we’re yet to see any plastic-backed fridge that can withstand an open flame for 30 seconds. And the problem is linked directly to the current safety standard, which isn’t tough enough when it comes to fire testing.

This is changing in 2019, but we’re so concerned about it that we’ve made we’ve made 250 fridges, freezers and fridge freezers with plastic and flammable backs Don’t Buys.

Find the fridges, freezers and fridge freezers we recommend.


Which? says

Most products and the components within them are built to be safe, and don’t pose a risk to their owners. But to make sure that this risk is kept low, consumer safety needs to be at the very heart of the standards designed to guide product production. We launched our ‘End Dangerous Products’ campaign back in February, and are calling on the government to reform the product safety regime to ensure that people are protected.

To add your voice to our call for action, sign our petition to end dangerous products.

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