We've been campaigning for a mandatory sunscreen standard for many years. But there’s still work to be done to ensure you can trust the labels.
On March 8, the Sunscreen (Product Safety Standard) Act was passed into law. Under the new law (which will take effect in September), sunscreens will be regulated under the Fair Trading Act and it will be mandatory for products to meet the Australian and New Zealand sunscreen standard.
We’re all vulnerable to NZ’s harsh sun. However, with no regular testing required under the mandatory sunscreen standard, you can’t always trust what’s on the label. That’s why we’ll continue to test sunscreens and let you know which products don’t meet their label claims.
In our latest round of testing, we tested 17 sunscreens to check whether they met their SPF (sun protection factor) and broad-spectrum protection claims. Only seven products provided their claimed SPF protection. Our final batch of test results are due in June - sign up to hear from us when they arrive.
Regulating sunscreens under the Fair Trading Act should only be an interim measure. Sunscreens should be regulated as a therapeutic product, like they are in Australia.
Exposure to excessive UV radiation is a major risk factor for skin cancer. Sunscreen reduces this exposure, so it provides a therapeutic purpose – preventing DNA damage and the development of skin cancer.
All is not well in the world of sunscreen testing. It’s the scene of a decades long, multi-million-dollar fraud. A fraud perpetuated on the outskirts of NYC, whose effects have touched us all over the globe and may continue to be felt for years to come. This episode of the Consume This podcast investigates - listen below.
In New Zealand, we’re the only ones doing regular, independent tests so you can trust what’s on the label.
Each year our researchers select a sample of sunscreens and send them “blind” to independent accredited labs. Following the methods in the Australian and New Zealand standard AS/NZS 2604, we test a sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) which measures protection against UVB rays, and its broad-spectrum protection (against UVA and UVB rays). The standard requires SPF testing to be conducted on humans and it can take up to 3 months to receive a result.
Our annual sunscreen tests are funded by the Ministry of Health. But because sunscreen testing is expensive, and we’re a non-profit charity, we’re only able to test a small number of the 100+ sunscreens on shop shelves each year.