Some top brand sunscreens don't protect says uk consumer watchdog

Some top brand sunscreens don't protect says uk consumer watchdog

UK consumer watchdog Which? published research today that shows some top brand sunscreens don't offer the level of protection they claim on the label.

Which? tested 14 brands that claimed to have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 and three of them failed the test twice.

To pass the test the sunscreens had to produce an average SPF of 12.5, the industry standard.

The Worst

The three that failed the test were:

  • Marks & Spencer Formula Lotion - this was the worst - actual SPF was 7.1, less than half that stated on the label.
  • Malibu High Protection Lotion - actual SPF was 10.2.
  • Tesco Sun Protection Medium Lotion - actual SPF was 12 - just short of the 12.5 needed to pass the industry standard test said Which?
Marks & Spencer and Tesco told Which? that their sun lotions had passed internationally recognized tests and Malibu said they were working on a new formulation and were satisfied with the claim stated on the label on their current lotion.

The Best

Which? said the best sunscreens either met or surpassed the SPF 15 mark and also provided a reasonable level of protection from UVA.

The best sunscreens were:

  • Asda Sun System
  • Boots Soltan Moisturising Sun Care Lotion
  • Garnier Ambre Solaire Clear
  • Garnier Ambre Solaire Moisturising Protection Milk
  • L'Oreal Solar Expertise Advanced Anti-Ageing Sun Protection Lotion
  • Nivea Sun Moisturising Sun Spray
  • Sainsbury's Sun Protect Lotion
  • Wilkinson's Wilko Sun Protection System Moisturising Sun Lotion
Editor of the consumer magazine, Jessica Ross, said:

"Claims made by some sunscreen manufacturers are way off the mark and there are some shockingly bad products out there."

"Yet protecting yourself from the sun really doesn't have to cost the earth," she added.

Three of the products that passed the test cost 3 pounds or less: Sainsbury's Sun Protect Lotion, Asda Sun System and Wilkinson's Wilko Sun Protection System Moisturising Sun Lotion.

Protect Yourself From Too Much Sun

Skin experts say the most effective way to protect yourself from the sun has three parts:

  1. Limit the time in the sun, especially around noon (between 10 am and 3 pm) when it is at its strongest.
  2. Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves and a hat when outside.
  3. Use sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB.
Relying on sunscreen alone is not enough. Even sunblock does not offer total protection, and many people fail to re-apply it every 2 hours, and every time they go in the water.

Also, there is a tendency to put too little cream on. Imagine a lump of cream the size of a golf ball, that's how much you should be putting on, and reapplying every two hours.

About UVA and UVB

There are many types of sunlight, some of it visible and some of it not because the wavelengths are too short for the human eye. Ultraviolet light or UV is invisible to the human eye but some creatures can see it, for instance some flowers attract bees using UV "colours".

There are three types of UV light: UVA, UVB and UVC, with UVC having the shortest wavelength and UVA the longest. All three can damage DNA, but UVC does not get through the earth's atmosphere as easily so the ones we should worry about are UVA and UVB.

Some exposure to the sun is healthy, it helps us produce Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones; it is overexposure that harms us.

Prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB is linked to a range of health problems, such as damage to skin collagen fibres, which speeds up aging, damage to the eyes, for instance causing cataracts, and suppression of the immune system. And prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB also increases skin cancer risk.

The skin has its own way of protecting against damage from UV light; it increases the amount of melanin, a brown pigment that partly stops the UV light getting through. But this is not enough protection against prolonged exposure.

Scientists now know that UVA has a direct role in causing skin cancer, comparable to that of UVB.

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number only tells you how much protection the suncream offers against UVB. This system has been around for thirty years, and only recently have manufacturers started showing UVA protection on their products, because as the Malibu spokesperson told the media, the test for UVA has only been made commercially available this year.

Skin cancer forms in the tissues of the skin and there are two main types, both of which are linked to exposure to sunlight. One type is where the pigment-forming cells become cancerous, this is called melanoma and is the more serious type. The other type develops in skin cells that do not form pigment and has two forms: basal (small and round cells in the base of the outer layer of skin) and squamous (flat cells on the surface of the skin).

Cancer Research UK estimates that the number of skin cancers diagnosed in the UK every year has tripled since the 1980s, from around 25,000 to 75,000.

The rise coincides with a dramatic increase in the number of Britons who travel overseas, mostly to seek the sun, from around 4 million trips a year in the early 70s, to over 44 million two years ago, said Which?

Click here for Which?

Sources: Which?, Telegraph, archives.

The Best Daily SPF Sunscreens - Nadine Baggott (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice