Our leading consumer watchdog tested 10 sunscreen brands and found half failed to provide their claimed sun protection - two of the five sunscreens also failed to meet their broad-spectrum claims.
If this was embarrassing to the makers of the products this week, they made a very good job of concealing their blushes.
The body representing healthcare producers, Consumer Healthcare Products New Zealand suggested the results may be due to the testing methodology. "The testing of sunscreens is a fraught business - variable and often subjective as it is carried on skin which is variable," said executive director Scott Milne.
Australia and New Zealand share a joint standard for sunscreen testing and labelling, AS/NZS 2604:2012 Sunscreen products – Evaluation and Classification. However, we differ in a couple of significant areas.
The standard is mandatory in Australia but currently voluntary in New Zealand, where sunscreens are classified as cosmetics.
In New Zealand, there are no consent or registration requirements that apply before marketing or distributing sunscreens. Milne this week made it clear suncreen producers do not want any.
"Adding more regulation and legislation will only add costs and complexity, and it may reduce competition as smaller manufacturers will find the process too costly. Plus, this will not necessarily solve the problem of inconsistent testing results."
Garth Wyllie, executive director of Cosmetics New Zealand, added another layer of reassurance in stating sunscreens on New Zealand selves were as safe as anywhere in the world.
"Sunscreens sold here are also widely sold in Australia, Europe and the US and all must meet the requirements of those markets," he said.
"Any sunscreen sold in New Zealand must be able to prove the SPF claims made on the product under the Fair Trading Act and any failure to do so will subject the supplier to potential prosecution under that law with significant penalties to the supplier."
New Zealand has the highest rate of melanoma in the world, and melanoma is the most common form of cancer in New Zealand. More than 350 New Zealanders die from melanoma each year. It is estimated that more than 80,000 Kiwis get non-melanoma skin cancer each year.
It would seem ludicrous for Australia, where suncreens are manufactured under stricter controls as medicinal products, to have tighter standards than us.
As a result of the Consumer test results, Le Tan said it would be retesting its product and Ecosol will relabel its product SPF50+ as SPF30 but there is no suggestion the sunscreens are hazardous or faulty.
As the Cancer Society says, some protection is better than none. Even if you've bought a sunscreen that didn't meet its claims, the Consumer test results showed all SPF 50+ products provide high protection.
Consumer wants mandatory sunscreen standards for New Zealand and for manufacturers to regularly test their products to ensure different batches meet label claims.
While we're at it, let's acknowledge sunscreen is not a cosmetic product. It's time to call it what it is - for the sake of all of our skins.