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Sunscreens found to fail SPF claim tests

25 May 2018 09:21

Some sunscreens found to fail SPF claim tests

Some sunscreens found to fail SPF claim tests

Two popular sunscreens become significantly less effective once the wearer has been in sea water, a watchdog has warned.

Consumer group Which? tested water resistance claims made by two top brands and found the sun protection factor (SPF) fell by up to 59% after 40 minutes in salt water.

The watchdog claims that both sunscreens - a large brand product and an own-brand - were representative of the market.


Which? says the findings show the testing regime is significantly flawed and doesn't accurately represent a situation in which the user of the sunscreen would find themselves. During testing a volunteer is submerged in a bath of tap water which is circulated to simulate activity.

It also said that current tests also allow manufacturers to claim a product to be water resistant even if the SPF drops by up to 50% after two 20-minute periods of immersion.

Which? conducted its own tests respectively in salt water, chlorinated water and fast-moving water.

The branded product's SPF dropped by 59% after 40 minutes of immersion in salt water and in moving water, while the own-brand product's SPF dropped by 34% in both salt water and chlorinated water.

The consumer group said the current requirements for meeting water resistance claims were "unrealistic to the point of being meaningless".

"Don't Buy"

Which? has previously conducted tests on other sunscreen brands, finding that 15 widely-available brands did reach their SPF claim. They did, however, put Avon's Sun+ Multi Protection Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF30 on a "Don't Buy" list as it failed its tests.

This is still labelled a "Don't Buy" and is still widely available, Which? said.

The watchdog warned there was no way for consumers to know what SPF they would end up with after going into the sea or pool when they bought a sunscreen.

Nikki Stopford, Which? director of research and publishing, said: "Our research shows water resistant sunscreens don't live up to their claims when subjected to rigorous tests - raising serious questions about the current guidelines.

"With 15,400 new cases of melanoma each year, manufacturers should be required to robustly test their products and make only claims that can be relied on, ensuring holidaymakers know they can trust their sunscreen to protect them."

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