New Zealand has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world according to Consumer NZ. Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting Kiwis with the 2018 Skin Cancer Index Stating New Zealand has close to 2,500 new cases of melanoma each year.
Slip, slop, and slapping on the sunscreen is one way to protect ourselves from sunburn. Despite the risks associated with sun damage, New Zealand classifies sunscreens as cosmetic, not doing justice to the importance of these products in protecting consumers against the sun’s harmful rays.
Last year, Consumer NZ’s chief executive Sue Chetwin tested 20 sunscreens against the Australia/New Zealand standard. Results concluded only nine of these met their SPF claim and the requirements for broad-spectrum protection. “Our test found some natural sunscreens only provided low protection,” said Chetwin. “ One didn’t meet high protection or broad
spectrum claims and two companies – including one big brand - provided test certificates for similar, but not identical sunscreens.”
In New Zealand sunscreens can be sold without being tested as the sunscreen standard here is voluntary.
It is time the government made sunscreen standards mandatory as existing regulation is not providing sufficient consumer protection. Such measures are already in place in Australia, and with the highest rates found in New Zealand, our regulations cannot afford to be second best.