Consumer NZ Testing of SLS Sunscreen

Friday, 22 November 2019

Surf Life Saving New Zealand is obviously concerned about the Consumer NZ report that states the SLS sunscreen failed UVB broad spectrum protection requirements and that the label may not deliver what it states.

We were only advised on Wednesday, 20 November, 2019 that testing had been undertaken and were taken by surprise at the media coverage on Thursday, 21 November without notice. 

Please note SLS sunscreen did pass the SPF 50 test.

We are working urgently with our supplier Zenith Distribution to get some immediate answers.

The Australian manufacturer, who is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) is undertaking immediate testing of the product, and in addition is seeking to have the SLSNZ Sunscreen tested in the same lab that Consumer NZ used to validate their results for this batch. The test results will determine next steps.

SLSNZ fully supports the regulation of sunscreens in New Zealand.

Dr Gary Payinda, SLSNZ’s Medical Director, has reviewed all the information and test results supplied to us, and advises:

“SPFs of 30 or more are sufficient and adequate. SPF numbers up to 100 are mostly marketing-driven, rather than clinically relevant.

“Having said that, if a bottle says 50, it should be 50. The test results should be repeated and confirmed, and the label made accurate.

“Much more effective than sunscreen, however, is getting out of the sun between 10am and 3pm, getting under shade, and getting into clothing/hats/sunglasses. When sunscreen is used, it needs to be put on much more heavily than most people think (a shot glass full per application) to be effective, reapplied every two hours, and reapplied after sweating or swimming.”


Dr Gary Payinda
Medical Director, Surf Life Saving New Zealand

Please note:

  • SLS Sunscreen was Consumer Tested in 2017 and passed.
  • SLS Sunscreen was not Consumer Tested in 2018 and when we inquired why, Consumer NZ advised we had passed in the previous year 2017 and felt there was no need to test again at that stage.
  • SLS sunscreen is produced by an Australian manufacturer that is approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Association).
  • Sunscreen is regulated in Australia but not NZ.
  • Zenith Distribution has advised that the results from the company used by Consumer NZ don’t align with the tests previously carried out via the manufacturer, which are in accordance with the TGA and AU/NZ Guidelines.
  • SLS Sunscreen passed the SPF factor 50 test, however failed the UVB component of the UVA/UVB test for SPF50 – this batch did pass all tests for SPF40. According to our supplier Zenith Distribution . . . “In layman’s terms this product meets the SPF50 claim and still provides a high level of broad spectrum protection.”

In line with SLSNZ Medical Director, Dr Payinda’s comments, the SLS sunscreen is still sufficient and adequate as it is above SPF30. We will keep you posted as we know more following the Australian manufacturer’s testing.

Paul Dalton
Chief Executive Officer
Surf Life Saving NZ



For more information, please contact

Melanie Louden

Media and Communications Manager

Surf Life Saving NZ

021 757 433