Are sun creams always what they claim to be?

The Costa del Sol is named aptly, after all we do get 300 odd days of sun and over the next few months it´s going to get hotter and hotter. Of course we want to enjoy the weather but we need to do so whilst remembering the principles of safe sunning;

  • Protect your head with a hat
  • Stay out of the sun during its hottest period
  • Wear plenty of sun cream

So far so good. But are all sun creams delivering the protection they claim to?


The consumer watchdog Which? has looked into this and highlighted some dodgy players in the sun care game. Which? decided to put a number of sun creams that claimed to provide sun protection factor (SPF) 30 to the test. Did the cream in fact offer SPF 30? Did it meet the EU recommendation for protection against UVA rays and finally how “pleasant” was it to apply?

Four of the 25 brands tested were classified by Which? as “Don´t Buy” products. Two products from the Hawaiian Tropic range didn´t make the SPF 30 claim, the Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion and its Satin Protection Lotion. Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Sun Fluid also failed the SPF claim and Boots Soltan Protect and Moisturise Lotion failed both the SPF claim and the application test. But to be fair to the manufacturers both Boots and Hawaiian Tropic have stated all their products are rigorously tested and refute the report´s findings. But, other critics argue that lab based sun cream testing is generally made after the application of a thick layer and we aren´t always as thorough in its application as that.

Which? did identify some eleven “Best Buys” though and Boots were back in favour with their Soltan Dry Touch Suncare lotion. Avon´s Sun Clear Spray was the top scorer for UVB, UVA and application, and products from the Nivea and Garnier Ambre range also did well. Morrisons M Sun Care Protect and Nourish Sun Spray was one of the cheapest tested and came out as a “Best Buy”, showing that paying a higher price for your sun cream doesn´t necessarily guarantee results.

Avoiding sunburn is essential in the fight against cancer and applying a high factor sun cream is one of the best protections we can offer ourselves, so we must be able to trust what it says on the bottle. But we have a responsibility too, we need to apply the cream according to instructions and be sensible. Wearing hats, shirts and sunglasses will also help protect us, as will the shade. And seriously, who wants to have lunch in the blazing sun or a burnt back for that matter?

Stay Healthy
Respiratory Physiotherapist
Colegio de Fisioterapeutas (6968)
M.Sc Post. Grad. Dip. Physiotherapy. PGC Teaching and Learning

‘The contents of the above is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for specific medical or legal advice on a particular matter. This blog is provided by a third party, Rachel Garrod, and therefore we accept no liability for the above content or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of any such information’.

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