Which? sunscreen tests have revealed a supermarket own-brand lotion costing just £3 is one of the strongest performers, while a big name brand costing more than double that failed the consumer champion’s safety tests and should be avoided.
Which? lab tests found an Asda sunscreen was great value and gave impressive protection – making it a reliable option for cost-conscious holidaymakers this summer.
Which? tested 19 popular sun creams. Out of these products, one failed the tests and was labelled a ‘Don’t Buy’ by Which?.
Avon’s Refreshing 3-in-1 Face and Body Sun Lotion SPF30 (£5.75/150ml) did not come close to hitting its claimed SPF30 in tests. It failed Which?’s SPF tests twice meaning those that were tested will not offer the level of protection they promise on the bottle.
Consumers are advised to avoid this product. By not living up to its SPF claims, it does not offer adequate sun protection, meaning people using them could unwittingly put themselves at risk.
With parts of Britain in the grip of a heatwave, it is vital that people protect themselves from harmful UVA and UVB rays that could lead to skin damage and cause skin cancer.
Which? tests of popular sunscreens found that products with good protection do not have to break the bank.
One brand that triumphed in Which?’s testing was Asda. Several of Asda’s products passed sun protection tests and earned a Which? Great Value badge for their low prices.
Asda Protect Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF30 £3/200ML (£1.50/100ML) has all the UVA and UVB sun protection claimed and is great value at £3 for 200ml, according to Which? lab tests. Panellists told Which? that it is absorbed easily without being greasy or sticky and does not leave white marks on skin.
Among slightly more expensive spray products, Which? testers found Asda’s Protect Refreshing Clear Sun Spray £4/200ML (£2/100ML) was easy to apply, not tacky to touch and did not leave any visible residue after application. Most importantly, it gave the required SPF and UVA protection in Which? lab tests.
Asda outshone premium product Ultrasun Family SPF30 £22, as although both are highly effective against UV, Ultrasun wasn’t as easily absorbed and left more of a visible residue. The supermarket’s product is around seven times cheaper than the premium brand.
Boots also fared well in the testing and earned a Which? Great Value badge for its low price. Soltan Protect & Moisturise Lotion, SPF30 £4/200ML (£2/100ML) delivered all the sun protection required of an SPF30 product. It comfortably met the standard needed in SPF testing when filtering UVB rays and when defending skin against penetrating UVA. Application scores were good across the board and it also costs 50p less than the spray version.
For the SPF50+ kids’ sunscreens category, Asda’s Kids Sun Lotion Spray, £3.60 (£1.80/100ML) also came top of the rankings, another great value option is Boots Soltan Kids Protect & Moisturise Lotion, £4/ 200ML.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said:
“It is great to see cheaper sunscreen options available on the high street and in supermarkets at a time where consumers need affordable options. However, it’s a concern to find a big brand product on the market that has failed our testing and did not offer the level of protection claimed on the packaging.
“Our advice is to stick to a tried and tested suncream. Do not be fooled into thinking that paying a higher price will definitely mean a better or safer product as our testing proved a supermarket own brand product can do the job well.
“We’ve found plenty of highly effective, cheap sunscreens available on the high street, so there’s no need to splash out to keep you and your loved ones safe in the sun.”
Notes to Editors:
- Out of the 19 products tested, six SPF30 products are carried over from our 2022 testing and 13 were tested in 2023. All of the children’s SPF50+ sunscreens were tested in 2023.
- For more information on how Which? tests sunscreen, click here: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/sun-creams/article/how-we-test-sun-creams-a1AcM2l6WYP
Avon’s Refreshing 3-in-1 Face and Body Sun Lotion SPF30, £5.75/150ml
Asda Protect Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF30, £3/200ml
Asda Protect Refreshing Clear Sun Spray SPF30, £4/200ml
Avon Sun Body Cream SPF30, £5/150ml
Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise Lotion, SPF30, £4/200ml
Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise Spray SPF30, £4.50/200ml
Calypso Press & Protect Sun Lotion SPF30, £5/200ml
Nivea Sun Protect & Moisture SPF30 lotion, £6/200ml
Piz Buin Allergy Sun Sensitive Skin Lotion SPF30, £8/200ml
Superdrug Solait Moisturising Sun Cream Lotion SPF30, £4.99/200ml
Superdrug Solait Moisturising Sun Cream Spray SPF30 High, £5.49/200ml
Ultrasun Family SPF30, £22/200ml
Asda Kids Sun Lotion Spray SPF 50+ High, £4/200ml
Boots Soltan Kids Protect & Moisturise Lotion, SPF50+, £4/200ml
Childs Farm 50+ SPF Sun Lotion Spray, £12/100ml
Childs Farm SPF50+ Kids Roll-on Sun Lotion, £10/50ml
Nivea Sun Kids Protect & Care SPF50+ Spray, £6.50/200ml
Sainsbury’s Sun Protect By Sainsburys Kids Lotion Sun Spray SPF50+, £5.00/200ml
Superdrug Solait Kids SPF 50+ Roll-on Sun Lotion, £3.49/100ml
Five steps to safe sunscreen use
- Apply before you go out
Where possible, apply sunscreen around 20 to 30 minutes before you go out in the sun and before you put on make-up, moisturiser or insect repellent.
- Use enough
Using too little sunscreen could leave you with sunburn. The World Health Organisation recommends adults use 35ml, or around seven teaspoons, with one for every limb and one each for your front, back and face/head/neck.
If you’re in the sun for more than two hours be sure to reapply. And if you’re doing something physical or are sweating a lot, you’ll need to reapply more frequently. The same is true if you go swimming.
- Cover up
It’s best to rely on more than just sunscreen to keep you safe. Covering up and wearing a hat and sunglasses will protect exposed areas of skin. And seeking out areas of shade during the hottest part of the day is very important, too.
- Don’t use out-of-date sunscreen
Sunscreens don’t last forever. Every one of them will have a shelf life after they’ve been opened and may not offer as much protection beyond this. The shelf life will be noted in months on the back of the bottle. Look for a symbol of a pot next to, for example, 12M, 18M or 24M – this is how long in months the sunscreen will remain usable and effective once it’s been opened.
Right of replies
Avon’s Refreshing 3-in-1 Face and Body Sun Lotion SPF30 (£5.75/150ml)
Which? alerted Avon to the results of our testing, and it said: ‘The safety of our customers is our priority and that’s why our expert skincare team produces the most effective sun care formulas. Upon hearing from Which? Avon has engaged its Quality and Research and Development teams to investigate the specific batch of product that Which? tested. Avon stands behind its data and that of the independent labs which conduct our testing.’
Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
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