Sunscreen tests throw shade on SPF labels
Sandra Hermiston and Ross McLaughlin, CTV Vancouver
Published Wednesday, May 31, 2017 6:00AM PDT
Two recent studies are throwing shade on a number of sunscreens being sold in stores. They found what you see on the label of your sunscreen bottle may not be what you get.
Consumer Reports recently tested 58 products on the market and discovered 20 had less than half of their labelled SPF number.
“You potentially have the risk of really damaging your skin if you’re relying on it to protect yourself,” said Patricia Calvo of Consumer Reports.
What was even more alarming is the fact that five products labelled with an SPF of 50 or 50+ had an actual level between zero and nine.
But some sunscreens did get high marks. Among them were three Equate sunscreens from Walmart. They made Consumer Reports’ best buys in the ratings.
And La Roche-Posay melt-in sunscreen topped its list with a perfect score of 100.
If you want to stay away from chemical-based sunscreens, the Environmental Working Group released its own testing, with similar findings.
"What we found is approximately three-quarters of products didn't meet our grade or what we expected in terms of sun protection, as well as the use of less concerning ingredients," said David Andrews, EWG senior scientist.
The group recommends using zinc oxide based products with a 15 per cent or greater concentration.
And beware of products that claim to have an SPF 50+. The EWG says they may give users a false sense of security, leading people to spend more time in the sun.
“You should think of sunscreens as one of your tools in the sun protection strategy that includes seeking shade, wearing clothing, hats, covering up and then using sunscreens to reduce sunburns," explained Andrews.
You should apply at least one teaspoon to each body part 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply every two hours or after a swim. And to ensure your sunscreen is as active as possible, give it a good shake to make sure the ingredients are mixed up.
The Personal Care Products Council, which represents sunscreen companies, disagrees with the Consumer Reports SPF testing, claiming the methods used were not consistent with those used by the FDA.