Consumer NZ’s Sunscreen Database Adds a New Layer of Protection

Default Profile ImageBen O'Connell
Sunscreen Database Adds a New Layer of Protection

Consumer NZ has launched an online database allowing New Zealanders to choose sunscreen brands that are transparent about how often they test their products.

Belinda Castles, research and test writer at Consumer NZ, says an overwhelming 92% of people think companies should be required to regularly test their products to ensure different batches meet their label claims. But this isn’t a requirement under the mandatory sunscreen standard.

“Our independent testing over many years has found companies often rely on tests that are several years old to support claims. This is not good enough for a product that needs to protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

“We asked more than 90 companies selling sunscreen in New Zealand for information about when and where their products have been tested.

“30 brands came back to us with up-to-date information about their tests, product ingredients and claims. We have compiled this information into our new database, which is free and available to all New Zealanders.”

The database also has information about sunscreen ingredients, SPF and water-resistance claims, sunscreen type and price.

Cosmetics NZ weighs in

Several companies, including Beiersdorf (Nivea) and Edgewell Personal Care (Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic), declined to provide product information or say when or where their sunscreen was tested, referring us to the industry body, Cosmetics NZ, for further comment.

Cosmetics NZ general manager Martha van Arts said most of the information requested was publicly available, and all sunscreens now for sale in New Zealand must comply with the Sunscreen Act and standards.

“Whether a sunscreen is a global brand or independent brand with small distribution, it must be tested for safety and efficacy, specifically with regards to SPF claims,” says Ms van Arts.

While we acknowledge that may be the case, we believe there’s no valid reason for companies not to disclose when and where their sunscreens were tested.

“Until now, it has been impossible for consumers to know when or where a product was tested. We have designed and created this database to give New Zealanders the information they want and need,” said Castles.

For more information about our call for safer sunscreens, head to the campaign hub on its website.

Sunscreen’s Importance

Good sunscreen is crucial, especially in New Zealand, where the sun’s intensity is particularly strong. The country’s geographical location, being in the Southern Hemisphere, and its proximity to the Antarctic Circle, makes it one of the sunniest places on Earth. This high exposure to the sun’s UV radiation can lead to skin damage and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Sunscreen serves as a protective barrier against the sun’s harmful UV rays. It works by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering the rays, preventing them from penetrating the skin and causing damage. A good sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30, provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and be water-resistant.

Stats on sunscreen

The statistics on skin cancer in New Zealand underscore the importance of using good sunscreen. According to the New Zealand Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the country, with over 80,000 new cases diagnosed each year. This high incidence rate is largely due to the country’s high solar radiation levels and the public’s need for more awareness about the importance of sun protection.

The New Zealand Skin Cancer Foundation also reports that melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, accounts for nearly half of all skin cancers diagnosed in the country. This is alarming, given that melanoma can be fatal if not detected and treated early. Regular use of sunscreen can significantly reduce the risk of developing melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.

The statistics on skin cancer in New Zealand serve as a stark reminder of the importance of sun safety. It is crucial for all New Zealanders and everyone living in a sunny climate to understand the risks associated with excessive sun exposure and take proactive steps to protect themselves. This includes using good sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and seeking shade during the hottest part of the day.

In addition to skin cancer, excessive exposure to the sun’s UV radiation can lead to premature skin ageing, sunburn, and eye damage. These conditions can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and lead to long-term health problems.

For the family

Sunscreen is not only important for adults but also for children. The New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends that children under one should be kept out of direct sunlight and wear a hat and lightweight clothing if exposed. For children over one, sunscreen should be used alongside other forms of sun protection.

The importance of using good sunscreen cannot be overstated, especially in a country like New Zealand, where the sun’s intensity is high. By using sunscreen with a high SPF and broad-spectrum protection, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of skin cancer and other sun-related health issues. It is a simple yet effective way to protect our skin and our health.

Understanding the importance of sunscreen and sun safety is the first step towards reducing the incidence of skin cancer and other sun-related health issues. By promoting sun safety and encouraging the use of sunscreen, we can help protect our skin and our health, and enjoy the outdoors safely.