Australian consumer group Choice found some popular sunscreen brands fall short in delivering their SPF50+ guarantee. Choice tested six popular sunscreens and found only Nivea Sun Kids and Cancer Council's Classic delivered on the SPF50+ claims.

Banana Boat Baby SPF50+ (finger spray) and Banana Boat Sport 50+ (tube) have SPF42. Ombra (Aldi) Kids SPF50+ (roll on) has SPF36 while Ego SunSense Sport 50+ only has SPF 29.

Choice's report stressed that products should meet any lab test at any given time, especially after their release in the market. Manufacturers shouldn't be satisfied with only the results from their chosen labs.

"To ensure compliance, and to check that transport and storage conditions don't affect a product's SPF over time, we'd like to see our regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), play a greater hands-on role in testing sunscreens," said Choice.

The United States' Consumer Reports and United Kingdom's also found different sunscreen test results compared to the figures found by manufacturers. Regardless of actual numbers, Choice's findings showed not all sunscreens with SPF50+ claims are the same.

Sunscreens with over SPF30-proven claims have "high" UV protection when used properly. Consumers need to reapply the product every two hours to get the equivalent of at five hours' UV protection. However, since these are not "true" SPF50+ sunscreens, consumers have higher chances of getting sunburned.

"Given that most people - as many as 85% - don't use enough sunscreen, applying a true SPF50+ product will better allow for some user error," wrote Choice in their report published in the company website.

Choice also pointed out that sunscreens' biggest impact relies on how the products are used. Many people fail to apply enough sunscreen while some do not reapply enough or at all. Choice suggests the following practices to maximize sunscreens' protection.

  • Use two tablespoons worth of product to cover the entire body of an adult consumer.
  • Check the product's expiry date.
  • Ideally, consume the product within the year.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 15 to 30 minutes before heading out.
  • Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Store the product below 30 degrees Celsius. Avoid storing sunscreens inside a car.

Photo: Aikawa Ke | Flickr

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