Don’t get burned by false claims of 'once-a-day' sun creams

Don't suffer sunburn because of misleading claims by your sun cream.
Don't suffer sunburn because of misleading claims by your sun cream.

They sound like the perfect solution to one of the chores of holidaying in the sun.

Once-a-day sunscreens – slap it on in the morning and you’re done.

You don’t have to keep reapplying, getting in a sticky, sandy mess, and worrying about whether it’s been washed off by your dip in the pool.

But sometimes what seems too good to be true, is just that.

For the first time, Which? tested the claims of four “once-a-day” sun lotions and found that they might not provide the cover they claim.

In fact, after six to eight hours, the average SPF (sun protection factor) of these creams had decreased by a whopping 74 per cent.

Over the course of a day, a cream boasting an SPF of 30 could actually offer as little protection as a SPF of eight.

We all know that skin cancer is a rising problem – more than 100,000 people are diagnosed in the UK with the condition every year – so good protection against the sun’s rays is vital.

The idea that you only need to slather on the sunscreen once a day is seductive – but did you know that products claiming they can protect you all day are banned in Australia?

Down Under two in three people are diagnosed with skin cancer before they reach the age of 70 and anything which leads consumers to believe they don’t need to reapply sun protection regularly is forbidden.

The situation in the UK, however, is different. And as a result of our tests we think the manufacturers of such sunscreens need to ensure their products live up to the claims on the packaging.

The creams we tested were Soltan Once Invisibly 8hr Sun Protection SPF30, Piz Buin 1 Day Long Lotion SPF30, Riemann P20 Once a Day Sun Protection SPF30 and UltraSun Family SPF30.

Our advice? Make sure you reapply regularly despite what it might say on the bottle. And when we asked the British Association of Dermatologists and Cancer Research UK they agreed.

So apply your sunscreen liberally, often and get someone to help you cover those harder-toreach places, like your back.

* If you have any consumer questions get in touch at


We tested 11 widely available sunscreens to see if they really offered the SPF30 they claimed.

Only one failed to pass our tests - Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Ultra Radiance lotion.

The firm stands by its SPF30 claim, but it’s now one of our Which? Don’t Buys.

The good news, however, is that you don’t need to spend a fortune for good protection.

Cheap sunscreens, including supermarket own brands, offer great protection. For more information visit