Sunscreen: best and worst sun creams revealed - with five products failing to live up to SPF claims

Which? have found that many high end mineral-based sunscreens fail to provide adequate protection against harmful rays.

The UK is currently experiencing high temperatures with The Met Office predicting a blistering 34C in some parts of the nation.

With sun rays beaming down, it is important for the public to protect themselves from the sun as UVA and UVB rays can lead to skin damage and even skin cancer.

But consumers may be surprised that the very thing they are told to use to protect themselves may not be doing its job.

What Which? said about its sunscreen test

Which? tested many popular sunscreens and found that some do not live up to their SPF claims and do not offer adequate protection against the sun.

Natalie Hitchins who is head of home products and services at Which? said: “Looking after your skin while enjoying the sunshine is something everyone should do to prevent skin damage and the risk of skin cancer.

“It’s a massive concern that none of the expensive mineral sunscreens in our tests offered the level of production claimed on their packaging.

“Our advice is don’t waste your money or take any unnecessary risks - stick to a tried and tested and reliable sunscreen.

“We’ve found plenty of highly effective, cheap sunscreens available on the highstreet so there’s no need to splash out to keep you and your loved ones safe in the sun.”

What did the test results show?

The test involved five mineral sunscreens and eight chemical based versions from the high street.

Sunscreen brands included: Clinique, Tropic Skin, Alba Botanica, Hawaiian Tropic and Green People.

All of the mineral sunscreens failed SPF or UVA testing; three products failed both tests.

Chemical based sunscreens (which are often much cheaper) work as they use ingredients that absorb UV rays, whereas mineral sunscreens physically block ultraviolet radiation using ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

Which?  found that none of the mineral SPF30 products they tested offered the level of protection claimed.

One of the least effective, Clinique Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, which costs £26 for a 125ml bottle, barely provided a third of the claimed SPF level.

Tropic Skin Shade Cream (£28/200m), co-owned by Lord Sugar and former Apprentice contestant Susan Ma, barely provided a third of its claimed SPF30 level and it also failed UVA tests.

It is the only brand on the list who has committed to a full re-testing of its product and has ceased sales whilst they await results.

Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Fragrance Free (£11.99/113ml) also failed both SPF and UVA testing.

Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Protective Skin Milk (£10.50.100ml) passed the UVA testing but offered significantly less SPF protection than claimed.

Green People Scent Free Sun Cream SPF30 (£25.50) uses both mineral and chemical filters.

It was the only product to pass the SPF protection test but it still failed at blocking UVA rays.

It is important for a sunscreen to pass both SPF and UVA rays tests as if they do not they are not protecting people from skin damage and premature ageing.

Due to the testing Which? have decided to list all five mineral sunscreens as Which? Don’t Buys.

Consumers will be glad to hear that eight of the chemical based sunscreens tested by Which? passed both the SPF and UVA tests.

The cheaper alternatives out performed their pricey alternatives and the following products passed the Which? test:

What the sunscreen companies said

A spokesperson for Tropic Skin said: “The safety of our customers is always our number one priority, and we take the integrity of our formulations incredibly seriously.

“Our Skin Shade is mineral based - with over 20 per cent mineral zinc oxide - which requires specific considerations during testing.”

A spokesperson from Edgewell who owns Hawaiian Tropic said: “In the specific case of our product we firmly disagree with the testing results obtained by Which?”

Hawaiian Tropic and Clinique have rejected Which?’s findings, Green People are investigating the matter further and Alba Botanica has not responded to requests for comments.