Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Melanoma health centre

This article is from the WebMD News Archive

Popular sunscreens fail consumer test

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Farah Ahmed

15th May 2015 – Two out of 13 leading sunscreens fail to live up to their claims of providing a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30, according to the consumer magazine, Which?

The 2 products made by Hawaiian Tropic and Boots have been added to the magazine's list of 'don't buy' products after tests carried out to British Standard specifications revealed that each of them only offer two-thirds of the protection stated on the bottle.


Sunscreens are designed to protect skin from UVA and UVB radiation which may increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

The SPF figure seen on sunscreen indicates the amount of protection it offers against UVB, which is the main cause of sunburn. If a sunscreen fails to match the stated level of protection, you could be exposed to a greater risk as you will be getting less protection than expected.

The tests were carried out by applying carefully measured amounts of each sunscreen to a small, consistently sized area on the backs of 10 volunteers.

A special lamp which simulates the UVB rays radiated by the sun is shone on the volunteers' backs and used for carefully set lengths of time. Laboratory assistants then check for redness after the UVB exposure. The shortest amount of exposure with and without the product is compared to establish its SPF.

Failing the test

The 2 brands that failed the test are:

  • Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion SPF 30 – which costs £14.99 for a 180ml bottle
  • Boots Soltan Protect and Moisturise Lotion SPF 30 – which costs £4.50 for a 200ml bottle

According to Which?, the Silk Hydration Lotion is the second Hawaiian Tropic product to fail its tests in the last 2 years.

'Very concerned'

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, says in a statement: "We’re very concerned that a further two popular sunscreens have now failed our tests. Consumers must be able to trust and rely on the information provided by manufacturers so it's disappointing to see well-known brands falling short. We want them to take action to ensure their products deliver the promised protection."

Which? says that Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Sun Fluid SPF30 (150ml) and Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Sun Lotion SPF30 (200ml) both failed their 2014 tests and they continue to recommend that people do not buy these products.

Healthy skin newsletter

Skin care tips and treatment options
Sign Up

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

How to help headache pain
man in mirror
How smoking affects your looks & life
man holding sore neck
16 tips when you have a lot of weight to lose
man holding sore neck
Could you have a hormone imbalance?
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
man holding sore neck
8 signs you're headed for menopause
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
Allergy myths and facts
egg in cup
Surprising things that can harm your liver