Five out of five “natural” sunscreens tested don’t protect as well as they claim

Sunscreen, which costs up to $28, doesn't provide the protection it promises, which says

High quality “natural” sunscreens often claim to be better for your skin (Picture: Getty)

Many so-called “natural” sunscreen brands don’t offer people the level of protection advertised on their packaging, according to a new study.

Consumer Group Which? tested five mineral SPF30 creams, which are widely advertised as better for the skin and the environment and have a higher price tag.

Laboratory analysis revealed that none of the five products offered the claimed protection against UVA and UVB rays, the two components of sunlight linked to skin damage.

One of the least effective was Tropic Skin Shade Cream, a joint venture between Alan Sugar and former apprentice Susan Ma, which cost £28 for 200ml.

It offered barely a third of its advertised SPF level, which measures a sunscreen’s ability to filter UVB rays, and also failed tests for UVA protection. Which? said.

The brand responded to the findings by halting sales while it fully re-tested the product – but was the only one to do so.

Clinique Mineral Sunscreen Lotion (£26 for 125ml) was tested to deliver just under a third of the advertised SPF level.

Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Fragrance Free (£11.99 for 113ml) failed both SPF and UVA tests.

A woman sunbathes in a deck chair in hot weather in St James's Park in London, Thursday June 16, 2022. Temperatures are expected to hit 28 degrees Celsius (82F) in London today as heatwave conditions continue. (AP Photo/David Cliff)

Temperatures of up to 31C are driving Brits out in droves in the sun (Image: AP)

Green People Scent Free Sun Cream SPF30 (£25.50 for 200ml) passed on SPF protection but fell short when it came to blocking UVA rays.

The cheapest Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Protective Sun Milk (£10.50 for 100ml) passed Which?’s UVA test, but offered far less SPF protection than claimed.

Most sunscreen products use ingredients that penetrate the skin and convert UV rays into harmless heat through chemical reactions.

Mineral sunscreens use ingredients that block ultraviolet radiation by both absorbing and deflecting rays.

Mineral-only versions are often advertised as “natural,” “organic,” or “chemical-free” because they use naturally occurring compounds like zinc oxide, rather than compounds synthesized in the lab.

But that distinction doesn’t make them safer, and the mineral ingredients are still chemical compounds isolated through heavy processing in a lab. (01202 558833) Picture: Graham Hunt/BNPS Date: 15 June 2022. Sunbathers on the beach, one showing signs of sunburn, enjoy the scorching hot sun at the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset.

The? urged sunbathers to stick to trusted sunscreen brands (Image: BNPS)

All of these compounds can have beneficial or harmful properties, regardless of how they’re obtained, and products that use them must pass rigorous safety tests to pass regulatory agency approval.

Some products use both types of protection, such as B. the Green People Scent Free Sun Cream.

The? all five mineral sunscreens marked “Do Not Buy” because products must protect against both UVB and UVA rays.

Eight sunscreens based on chemical absorption passed both types of tests, including much cheaper supermarket own brands.

L, SCOTLAND - MAY 30: Sunbathers enjoy the good weather after the Scottish Government announced Thursday it would ease lockdown May 30, 2020 in Luss, Scotland. From May 29, Scotland allowed groups of eight from just two different households to meet in parks or gardens. Meanwhile in England, groups of six people from multiple different households will be able to meet in public from June 1. (Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

Temperatures could reach their highest of the year in many areas this weekend (Picture: Getty)

Edgewell, creators of Hawaiian Tropic and Clinique, rejected the Which? results and insisted that its products met regulatory requirements in both test scales.

Green People said it has submitted all of its sunscreen products for further testing by an independent laboratory. It claimed that all of the products met their claims except for the one selected by the regulator for which “investigations continue”.

Alba Botanica did not respond to requests for comment.

Natalie Hitchins, which ones? Head of Home Products and Services, said: “It is of great concern that none of the expensive mineral sunscreens in our tests offer the level of protection advertised on the packaging.

“Our advice is don’t waste money or take unnecessary risks – stick with a proven and reliable sunscreen. We have found many high-performing, cheap sunscreens available in the high streets, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money to protect yourself and your loved ones in the sun.”

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Justin Scacco

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