Cancer Society agrees with the need for better sunscreen regulation in New Zealand, but confirms its sunscreens are safe

The Cancer Society remains committed to reducing the risk of skin cancer for all New Zealanders, thus we are currently investigating why the Consumer NZ testing has returned results different to ours.

Mike Kernaghan, Chief Executive of the Cancer Society of New Zealand said he was concerned with the variability and quantity of products that have failed Consumer’s testing including Cancer Society’s own Everyday Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+, 4 hours Water Resistant product.  

 “We agree it’s was time the Government made the Australia and New Zealand standard mandatory – as it is in Australia - and made regular testing consistent and compulsory,” Mr Kernaghan said.

“With such different test results, and some Sunscreens that are testing so low they are dangerous, we absolutely agree with Consumer NZ that regulation is needed.  

“While SPF40 is a very high level of protection, we are obviously disappointed to hear Consumer NZ’s testing did not meet the claims on the label and have asked for an investigation from our sunscreen supplier, Daffodil Enterprises, so we can get to the bottom of this” noted Kernaghan.

Fiona Mawley, General Manager of Daffodil Enterprises who produce and marketing the Cancer Society’s Sunscreen, said it would work closely with Consumer NZ and the operators of the testing facility to ascertain why Consumer NZ tests differ from others.

“We are still confident that the Cancer Society product meets the effectiveness as listed on the label.  It is likely that Consumer NZ’s testing involved decanting beforehand to allow for blind testing.  This process can alter the product’s chemical makeup and give a different result to that if it was tested straight from its container,” said Ms Mawley. 

“I want to ensure you Cancer Society products are safe to use, our producers ensure these products meet the standard claimed on the label, having had tests done in an approved and recognised testing facility in the US. There are vigorous standards in place to ensure they meet the claims on the label, including certification by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is a part of the Australian Government’s Department of Health, “Ms Mawley said.

The Cancer Society Brand is a trusted Brand and we will continue to have products tested to prove that people are provided a high level of protection when using Cancer Society’s sunscreen.


Should I continue to use your sunscreen products?

Yes!  While there are differences between Consumer NZ test results and ours we recommend that you continue to use sunscreen and be confident that ours will provide a high level of protection.

To be SunSmart, you should use a minimum of at least SPF30. We recommend using any branded product that meets that Aus/NZ standards and to be Sunsmart it should be SPF30, or above as well as other Sunsmart measures including a wide brimmed hat, a shirt and seeking shade when the UV is high. 

What is SPF?

SPF stands for ‘Sun Protection Factor’. It's a measure of how well sunscreen protects the skin from sunburn.

The higher the SPF number, the more UV radiation is filtered out and the greater the protection.

No matter how high the SPF rating, no sunscreen can screen out all UV radiation. All sunscreens are filters allowing some UV radiation to pass through to the skin.

What is the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50?

The Cancer Society advises that SPF30 sunscreen is sufficient for sun protection if applied correctly.

Higher SPF sunscreens are available, however, they still need to be correctly applied and reapplied regularly.

When you follow the instructions on the label, SPF30 filters 96.7% of UV radiation.  SPF50+ filters 98% of UV radiation.

Am I safe if I use plenty of Sunscreen?

Skin cancer is largely preventable. Over 90% of all skin cancer cases are attributed to excess sun exposure. From now, through to next April, all New Zealanders should remember to be SunSmart and to Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap, especially between 10am and 4pm.

How to be SunSmart:

  • Slip on a long-sleeved, collared shirt and seek shade, like under a tree.
  • Slop on sunscreen that is at least SPF30+, UVA/UVB broad-spectrum and water resistant
  •   Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face, head, neck and ears
  • Wrap on close fitting sunglasses
  • Don’t use sunbeds

When to be SunSmart:

  • When the ultraviolet index (UVI) is 3 or above
  • At the beach, as reflections from water and sand can increase UV
  • From September to April, especially between 10am and 4 pm  
  •  At high altitudes, especially near snow, which strongly reflects UV

Three ways to know when UV levels are 3 or higher: