Make sure sunscreen meets the standard

Child sunscreen L

Consumer NZ believes making sunscreens a therapeutic product (as they are in Australia) and ensuring they meet the Australian-New Zealand standard should be a priority.

It is also concerned at the variability of results produced at sunscreen testing labs and is calling for annual testing of sunscreen products and auditing of labs. Consumer NZ recently tested a range of sunscreens, including children’s products. In its test eight products failed either the SPF (sun protection factor) or broad-spectrum tests. However, Consumer NZ CEO Sue Chetwin said most of the affected companies were able to produce evidence to Consumer’s satisfaction that their sunscreens did meet their claims.

Sue Chetwin also said that a further issue for New Zealanders is sunscreens here are classified as cosmetics which means they don’t require approval before they can be sold. Companies are encouraged to sell sunscreens that comply with the Australian and New Zealand standard. But products that meet standards in the EU or US are permitted. Also, sunscreens that don’t meet any standard can legally be sold here.

Sunscreen tips:

· Look for sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30+, plus water resistance and broad-spectrum protection
· Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going out in the sun
· Apply plenty – about one teaspoonful for each arm, leg, back front and face (35mls for a full body application)
· Mopping up sweat or towelling dry will reduce your protection – apply another coat straightaway
· Sunscreen is only one part of your defence against harmful UV rays. Limit your time in the sun and wear cover up clothing.

The standard for sunscreen is AS/NZS 2604:2012 Sunscreen products – Evaluation and classification

Read more on the Consumer NZ tests

Buy AS/NZS 2604:2012

Published in consumer and occupational safety.