The truth about SPF factors

By | Health & Wellness
Consumer organization Which? has found that cheaper brands are more consistent then expensive brands: credit@Paul-Hesketh-1

The sun has come out to play and all around the UK people are scrambling to the bottom of their wardrobes to find their brightest summer outfit. Fridges are subject to the heavy raiding of barbecue treats and ice cold drinks. A beach bag, bum bag and even plastic bag are full of frisbees and balls, bats and other sport shaped objects people are unsure of how to hold. It is the only time of year someone suggests a game of swing-ball. Ice creams shoot to the top of the food chain and people will happily pay over the odds for the insensitively named ‘99p flake’. Before the final dash out the door and into the sun, always remember the most important essential of all, sun cream.

With factors ranging from 2-50, in the form of sprays, creams and oils, which sunscreens are the best for you and what brands can we trust? The sunscreen market has been scientifically enhanced over the past decade and now you can buy sun creams with superhero-like traits in water resistance, invisibility and UV blocking. The competition in marketing, however, can often lead brands to make unrealistic claims.

A new study from consumer organisation Which? believes that affordable brand suntan lotions are all more reliable than major High Street suntan creams such as Piz Buin, Hawaiian Tropic and Malibu. The investigation claims that cheaper brands from supermarkets and pharmacies are much more consistent in providing the level of skin protection claimed by the manufacturer.

Which? magazine used British Standard tests to check 15 products with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30, the highest selling factor number in the UK. The sunscreens tested are designed to protect against UVA and UVB radiation. UVB is the main cause of sunburn and UVA is linked to ageing of the skin.

They found that the most affordable product on test, Calypso Sun Lotion SPF30 250ml, passed both British Standard tests and costs only £1.20 per 100ml. The reports concluded spending less can still guarantee the correct protection.

Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?, said: “It is vital that you can trust a suncream to provide the protection it claims. We want to see manufacturers doing much more to make sure their sun creams live up to the claims on the packaging.”

The consumer magazine found that Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Sun Fluid SPF30 150ml, Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Ultra Radiance Sun Lotion SPF30 200ml and Malibu Protective Lotion SPF30 200ml all had results lower than SPF 25, despite claiming an SPF of 30.

Health information officer at Cancer Research UK, Sarah Williams, said: “The good news from this report is that price and whether the sunscreen was a fashionable brand did not matter. It is important that people can trust the information provided on the bottle, so they know what they are buying.”

The NHS recommends using a minimum of factor 15 sun lotion with UVA and UVB protection, and applying the screen every two to three hours. Remember to use more after swimming, even if the lotion is marked ‘water proof’ and the paler your skin, the greater care you need to take.

Here are the tested brands that 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

What other advancements would you like to see in the sun protection industry?


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