New Which? research (published on Friday May 16th) into the effectiveness of sun creams has revealed products from three popular brands failed to provide the protection they claim. Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Sun Fluid SPF 30 150ml, Malibu Protective Lotion SPF30 200ml and Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Ultra Radiance Sun Lotion SPF30 200ml all had results lower than SPF 25, despite claiming an SPF of 30. The Which? research also noted that spending more money doesn't guarantee effectiveness. Calypso Sun Lotion SPF30 250ml was the cheapest sun cream on test, costing just £1.20 per 100ml, and passed both British Standard tests.
Today, the Daily Mail reported that a US company claims to have invented the first drinkable sunscreen. Osmosis Skincare claim their product, Harmonised H20 UV protection, can provide sun protection up to SPF 30. Apparently, once ingested, the product's liquid molecules vibrate on the skin, cancelling out 97% of UVA and UVB rays. According to the company's website, you drink 2ml of the liquid every four hours while in the sun (preferably with water) to achieve the full protection. However, anyone exercising vigorously outdoors or taking sun-sensitising medicines should use alternate protection after 30 to 40 minutes.
This news story has great timing, considering the Which? report three days earlier that may have cast doubt into the minds of consumers about the sun lotions they are currently using to protect themselves. Yet, as it happens, even SPF 25 provides good protection from the sun; Cancer Research UK's Sun Smart website currently recommends using sunscreens with at least SPF 15 and a high star rating.
So would you want to drink sunscreen out of a bottle instead of slapping it on your skin? And, more importantly, would this be putting you at the risk of sunburn or, even worse, skin cancer?
Bear in mind that both of these news stories come nearly a month after Cancer Research UK revealed that the incidence of malignant melanoma - the most serious form of skin cancer - is now five times higher than it was in the 1970s. Malignant melanoma is now the 5th most common cancer in the UK, with more than 2000 dying from it each year.
So far, the trend on twitter has been a resounding 'no', with terms 'irresponsible', 'stupid' and 'dubious'! In fact, the British Skin Foundation (BSF) posted on its twitter feed this morning: "For anyone who has read about drinkable sunscreen, we would advise extreme caution."
The BSF also posted its sun safety tips:
1. Protect your skin with clothing and don't forget to wear a hat that protects your face, neck and ears.
2. Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when it's sunny.
3. When choosing a sunscreen, look for a high protection SPF (SPF 30 or more) to protect against UVB, and the UVA circle logo and/or 4 or 5 UVA stars to protect against UVA.
4. Apply plenty of sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapply every two hours and straight after swimming and towel-drying.
5. Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight.
Funnily enough, there was no mention of drinking sunscreen.