Which? Reveals Suntan Lotions Best Buys

Finally the UK seems to be getting some sunshine! So it's time to pop open the suntan lotion, but which brand should we buy?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that all suntan lotions and creams, given they carry ‘official’ SPF ratings, would offer the protection they say they do on the bottle. Or that only the more expensive lotions are far more easily absorbed.

Those good old folks at Which? have tried and tested the most popular, and readily available, suntan lotions and creams on the market.

You may be surprised at the results:

  • Did you know?  The Which? results show cheaper, supermarket own brands give some of the biggest suntan lotion names on the market a serious run for their money!
  • FACT: Skin cancer is at an all time high. Skin cancer, known as malignant melanoma, causes more than 2,000 deaths a year.

However, this form of cancer can be preventable and protecting yourself and your family should be your priority – not just in the summer months, but in the winter sun too. 

The sun’s harmful rays are just as dangerous in the winter, what’s more, they are just as harmful here in the UK.  Don’t be fooled into thinking ‘it’s a different type of sun’ abroad – it is not!

Buying the best suntan lotion you can afford is the right thing to do – and as the Which? results prove you don’t have to spend a fortune.

Getting burnt is actually the leading cause of skin cancer – proof again that we must apply suntan lotion much sooner than we do. 

  • Did you know?  In a recent survey, Nivea Sun revealed that nearly one in three Britains burns every time they go out in the sun, both at home and abroad. The most common places to burn are the nose and shoulders.

Which? carried out an independent survey adhering to strict British Standard testing environments, looking at both the SPF and the UVA claims.

But firstly, let’s know our SPF from our UVB and our UVA

What is the SPF Factor Rating?
SPF is the level of protection that the suntan lotion/creams offers over and above the rate at which a person’s own skin will burn without protection – it’s the UVB in the sun’s rays that causes sunburn.  So, for example, if one person went red, with signs of burning after 5 minutes, an SPF 30 lotion would prevent burning for up to 2.5 hours.  

It is advised that children do not use a sunscreen below 30 SPF, and adults below 20 SPF.

The UVB which causes skin to burn can cause skin cancer.

What is UVA YStar Rating?
UVA is also found in the sun’s rays, and as well as causing premature aging effects to the skin, it is also attributed to the cause of skin cancer.

It is advised that both children and adults should not use a cream that has less than a 5 star UVA rating.

 Which? Best Buys (in no particular order)

  • Nivea Sun Protect and Bronze Intensive Milk, SPF 30
    At £9 for 200ml, not only did this ‘Best Buy’ pass the strict Which? testing, but also the panel of judges felt it was easy to apply, absorbed easily into the skin and had a pleasant fragrance.
  • Piz Buin Protect & Cool Refreshing Sun Mousse SPF30
    At £9 this 150ml innovative mouse was easy to apply and absorbed easily, what’s more it  passed all SPF tests, albeit a little on the pricey side.
  • Aldi Lacura Suncare Moisturising Sun Spray SPF30
    A bargain at just £2.75 for 200ml, this suntan lotion was awarded a Best Buy despite it leaving the skin a feeling a little greasy immediately after application.
  • Lloyds Pharmacy Solero Sun Lotion SPF30 with Infrared-A Protection
    A 200ml bottle costs a reasonable £7, it did leave the skin a little sticky after application but it passed all tests and earned itself a Which? Best Buy.
  • Nivea Sun Protect & Moisture Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF30
    It takes a little longer to absorb than some of the other Best Buys for this 200ml £6 bottle but otherwise a good addition to your beach bag.
  • Tesco Soleil Suncare Lotion SPF30
    A little greasy immediately after application, this bargain £3.50 suntan lotion, for 200ml, passed all tests giving it Best Buy status for the supermarket brand.
  • Sainsburys Sun Protect Clear Spray SPF30
    At just £5 for a 200ml bottle, this was a hit with panel – pleasant fragrance, easily absorbed and passed all tests, a winner for the supermarket chain.
  • Nivea Sun Protect and Refresh Invisible Cooling Spray SPF30
    It’s hefty price tag - £16 for 200ml – was a hit with the panel, although they suggest looking out for any high street special offers to reduce the cost of this winning suntan spray.
  • Morrisons M Sun Care Protect & Nourish Sun Spray SPF30
    A bargain at £3.50 for a 200ml bottle, this supermarket brand was a hit with the panel, although they did comment that the skin felt a little tacky after application. Otherwise, easily absorbed with a pleasant fragrance.

Which? Do NOT Buys

Out of 25 suntan lotions tested this year, only one received the Do Not buy tag and that was...

  • Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Ultra Radiance Lotion SPF30
    Whilst this leading brand did impress the judges by the way it absorbed into the skin, it got an instant ‘Do Not Buy’ tag due to it failing the SPF scientific lab test, despite its £9 price tag.

For the full report on the Which? Best Buys, and Do Not Buy which covers 25 of the very best and worst suntan lotions and creams, visit