People placing their trust in sun creams to protect them from sunburn during this weekend’s heat wave could find they are not getting the protection they need, according to consumer group Which?.
Some of the best known brands in Britain have failed in tests which have been conducted by the consumer watchdog.
The results, released today, reveal that some Piz Buin, Malibu, and Hawaiian Tropic sun creams provided protection significantly lower than the levels they claimed.
In each case, the creams had results lower than Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 25, despite claiming an SPF of 30, claimed Which?, with a second round of testing confirming the results.
They were among 15 products with an SPF of 30 which were tested.
The sun creams are designed to protect against two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB. Both types have been linked to skin cancer, although UVB is the main cause of sunburn and UVA has been linked to premature ageing of the skin.
Sun creams should offer a UVA protection factor that is a third of their SPF value, according to European Union recommendations.
The Malibu Protective Lotion (200ml) was the only sun cream that also failed the UVA protection tests with a UVA protection factor below 10.
The study also found that the more expensive creams did not guarantee better protection.
Calypso Sun Lotion (250ml) – the cheapest product at £1.20 per 100ml - passed both British Standard tests.
And one of those which failed the SPF test - Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Sun Fluid - was the most expensive product tested at £11.30 per 100ml.
"With thousands of cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year, it's vital you can trust a sun cream to provide the protection it claims,” warned Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?.
"We've found three products that failed the strict British Standard tests and we want to see manufacturers doing much more to make sure their sun creams live up to the claims on the packaging," he added.
In a statement, a spokesperson for one of the brands, Malibu, said: "We stand by our testing and are willing to have our formula tested again by any reputable UK testing house.” They added: “We have nothing to hide. Our files are open for any legitimate person to come and examine."
Sun creams: The best and the rest
These brands passed both tests for SPF and UVA protection
- Aldi Lacura Suncare Moisturising Sun Lotion
- Asda Protect Sun Lotion
- Avon Sun Clear Spray
- Boots Soltan Dry Touch Suncare Lotion
- Calypso Sun Lotion
- Garnier Ambre Solaire Dry Mist
- Garnier Ambre Solaire Moisturising Milk
- M&S Formula Sun Care Lotion
- Morrisons Protect & Nourish Sun Lotion
- Nivea Sun Moisturising Sun Lotion
- Sainsbury’s Sun Protect Lotion
- Superdrug Solait Moisturising Sun Lotion
These brands failed at least one of the tests:
- Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Ultra Radiance Sun Lotion
- Malibu Protective Lotion
- Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Sun Fluid
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- sun cream