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Safer sunscreens

Join our mission for regular mandatory sunscreen testing.

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Update: Sunscreen regulation win for consumers

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. 

Read more about the new regulations. 

There’s no regular testing required under the mandatory 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

What we're calling for

Regular testing requirements

On its own, we don’t believe the mandatory standard is enough to protect consumers. The standard doesn’t say how often a sunscreen should be tested, and our investigations have found some companies rely on test results that are several years old. 

Labels you can trust

We’ve been testing sunscreens for more than a decade and regularly find products that don’t meet their claims. Consumers have the right to know whether their sunscreens give the protection they promise. 

Sunscreens regulated as a therapeutic product

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.

Feel the Burn: Sunscreen Fraud

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. 

Watch John’s story

“It’s surprising that we’re not taking this as seriously as we should as a nation.”

How we test sunscreens

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 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. 

In the media