“Daylong” Sunscreen Claims Irresponsible
Consumer Says “Daylong” Sunscreen Claims Irresponsible
Consumer NZ said today it supported the Commerce Commission in its findings that several sunscreen products did not meet their SPF claims, but it is concerned that the commission announced several sunscreens “could offer all day protection in the New Zealand sun”.
“The laboratory tests supported the products’ SPF claims, but we do not believe this should be interpreted as providing “day long” protection” says Consumer CEO Sue Chetwin.
The SPF is determined in the laboratory by comparing the time it takes skin protected by a sunscreen to redden, compared with unprotected skin. In theory, if it would normally take 10 minutes for a person’s skin start to burn, a sunscreen with an SPF of 40 would protect that person for 40 times as long – nearly seven hours.
In practice, the protection is much less. People apply much less sunscreen than is used in the standard test method, sunscreen is washed, sweated or rubbed off over time and people’s vulnerability to sunburn varies. The Australian/New Zealand sunscreen standard acknowledges this. It warns against using the SPF number to calculate your exposure time in the sunlight.
“Day long protection claims are irresponsible” says Ms Chetwin. “They may encourage people to risk skin damage and possible skin cancer by staying out in the sun for long periods.”
The Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia bans advertisements that raise unrealistic expectations of a sunscreen’s effectiveness. But in New Zealand sunscreens are classified as a cosmetic. Consumer believes that sunscreens should be classified as a therapeutic product and that compliance with a standard should be mandatory.
The December issue of Consumer, examines sunscreen claims and answers common sunscreen questions. A full copy of the article is available from www.consumer.org.nz