Consumer NZ reveals the best sunscreen

Consumer NZ has named two more brands of sunscreen that they say don't live up to their skin protection claims - as well as the best sunscreen for both SPF and price.

The non-profit organisation is calling for sunscreens to be strictly regulated in New Zealand, just as they are in Australia.

Chief executive Sue Chetwin says many sunscreen brands are making false promises.

"We've tested 19 mainstream sunscreens and what we've found is that only nine of them actually meet their claimed SPF."

One of the products deemed misleadingly labelled may surprise you.

"Rather disappointingly - the Cancer Society - we tested one of their sunscreens that was claiming SPF50+ and it only came in at SPF40."

That's still a very high level of protection, Ms Chetwin says, but not at the level the product claims.

Tests on SunGard also revealed an SPF closer to 40, when the bottle states 50.

Sunscreens in New Zealand are classified as cosmetic. In Australia, they're classed as therapeutic goods and have to meet a higher standard.

"We just think it's outrageous that we have one of the highest melanoma rates in the world and the sunscreen manufacturers don't have to meet the standard," says Ms Chetwin.

Products by Nivea and Banana Boat also failed Consumer NZ lab tests on their SPF claims, yet the brands' own lab tests show they did meet their claims.

Banana Boat could be facing legal action in Australia, after seven of its products failed to meet the advertised levels of protection. Two New Zealand sunscreens have already been pulled from shelves - Snowberry's Family-Plus SPF30 and Pure Blend. 

Consumer NZ has several demands for sunscreen regulation, including mandatory regular testing of products. It also wants lab testing to be strictly controlled.

Ms Chetwin says products claiming day-long protection should also be ignored.

"In Australia, you're not allowed to make a claim a product's day-long, because if you go out in the sun, you should apply your sunscreen regularly."

Consumer NZ's top performer, based on both sun protection and price, might also come as a surprise - it's Smart365, available from The Warehouse for $25 a litre.