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Kiwis raise thousands to test sunscreens

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A crowdfunding campaign has raised more than $50,000 to test sunscreens for effectiveness.

Consumer NZ has had 1177 donors contribute $55,423 to its eight-week campaign, meaning the public will have access to more independent sunscreen results.  

Donors to the campaign included people who had been affected by skin cancer. 

"Such important mahi - thanks Consumer. As a melanoma survivor, I know," one supporter commented. 

"I'm so grateful that you have been steadfast in pursuing this case. Keep up the great work."

onsumer NZ has been testing sunscreens for more than a decade and regularly finds products that fail to meet their SPF label claims.  

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy says, "We would like to thank everybody who donated to our first crowdfunding campaign. 

“These generous contributions mean there will be more independent test results for sunscreens this summer. To know that New Zealanders can make informed choices when it comes to purchasing sunscreens means a lot."  

"We have chosen a range of popular sunscreens that are widely available, as well as some children's products, as we know there are a lot of parents out there who are concerned about their kids getting adequate coverage.” 

To assess sunscreens, blind samples are sent to an accredited laboratory where they are tested following the methods in the Australian and New Zealand standard. The lab tests a sunscreen’s SPF, using a panel of 10 volunteers, and broad-spectrum protection. Each test costs about $5000. 

“Providing consumers with independent sunscreen test results is a great first step, but we’re not stopping there,” says Jon.

“Consumer NZ wants a mandatory sunscreen standard so consumers can buy products they can trust. With one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, it’s so important that New Zealanders can make informed decisions.”

New Zealand Dermatological Society president Dr Louise Reiche agrees a mandatory standard is needed.

“Sunburn may not show until a few hours after sun exposure, and low-grade cumulative sun damage clocks up without visible signs for some years, when it is too late to avoid the impact,” she says.

“Using sunscreens that fall below their labelled SPF rating means consumers are at risk of sunburn much sooner than anticipated, which increases the risk of skin cancer.

Consumer NZ is also campaigning for regulations to specify how often sunscreens must be tested. In some cases, manufacturers rely on test results that are more than five years old. 

Sunscreen test results will be available from December at consumer.org.nz

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