Kiwi’s love getting outdoors, but we can’t ignore the danger of UV rays. When it comes to sunscreen, there are surprisingly a number of important things to consider to make sure that you use the right cream for your skin. That’s where we come in.

* Overall satisfaction is an individual rating and not a combined total of all ratings. Brands with equal overall satisfaction ratings are listed in alphabetical order.

See our Ratings Methodology

Most Satisfied Customers | Neutrogena

For 2015, Neutrogena has outshone the rest, taking our award for Most Satisfied Customers – Sunscreens.


Neutrogena shines as New Zealand’s favourite sunscreen

According to Sunsmart, New Zealand has the highest rate of melanoma skin cancer in the world, with 69,000 Kiwis developing skin cancer each year! Although most melanomas that are detected early can be treated, roughly as many people die from skin cancer each year as those who die on our roads.

With all the awareness campaigns surrounding sun safety, you are probably already well aware of these dangers. In fact, most of us are. Our survey has revealed 70% of New Zealanders are concerned about skin cancer, while 59% admit they should protect themselves from the sun better than they currently do.

Despite this, we are unfortunately lacking when it comes to looking after our skin. 19% will often sunbathe and only 24% regularly have their skin checked for dangerous moles. Most alarmingly, Sunsmart report that only 50% use sunscreen, with fewer than half of these people reapplying!

Any sun exposure causes damage to your skin, and even if you don’t realise it straight away, sun damage can resurface as a significant problem later in life. So if you’re one of those who need to take better care of their skin in the sun, regularly applying sunscreen is a good place to start.

Canstar Blue endeavours to help consumers find the best sunscreen for their needs, by asking everyday Kiwis what they think about the brand they most recently used. We’re able to announce that for 2015, Neutrogena has outshone the rest, taking our award for Most Satisfied Customers – Sunscreens.

What we are looking for in our sunscreen?

You might think people just want an effective sunscreen that protects them from getting burnt, but our research has found this is only a part of the overall picture. Different people have different skin, and are therefore perhaps searching for something in particular when it comes to sunscreen. The largest drivers of satisfaction from our survey were found to:

  • Ease of absorption 20%
  • Effectiveness 17%
  • Ease of dispensing 15%
  • Texture and consistency 15%
  • Packaging 12%
  • Smell / scent 12%
  • Value for money 9%

It’s interesting to note the relative lack of concern surrounding value for money, suggesting that most of us are happy to pay for a quality product.

How does sunscreen work?

Although years of research have drastically improved sunscreens and its effectiveness over the years, the basics have remained relatively unchanged. There are two key components of sunscreens that give it the ability to reflect UV rays from your skin – organic compounds and inorganic compounds.

The inorganic compounds are usually reflective minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide that literally bounce the UV rays off your skin. It’s these minerals that make traditional sunscreens white, because similar to house paint, white reflects more light and heat, making it the coolest colour.

The organic substances such as oxybenzone play a complimentary role; instead of reflecting UV rays these compounds absorb them, drawing the heat and UV rays away from your skin.

There are two types of damaging UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deeper, causing signs of ageing such as wrinkling and age spots, while UVB rays are responsible for sunburns.

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures a sunscreen’s effectiveness in repelling UVB rays only (there is not yet a standard listing for UVA rays). Most agencies recommend an SPF of 30 up to 50, which block up to 98% of UV rays. There is no sunscreen yet in existence that protects against 100% of UV rays.

Most sunscreens today are labelled as ‘broad-spectrum’, which means they can repel both UVA and UVB rays.

The brands we rated


Neutrogena manufactures and markets a line of premium priced skin and hair care products in more than 70 countries. It offers a range of broad spectrum sunscreens, with some providing protection of a whopping SPF 85+. The brand produces specialised sunscreens for wet skin, children and sports. Most impressively, Neutrogena produces a unique “Ultra Sheer” sunscreen, which it believes to be a breakthrough in sun protection.

Banana Boat

Banana Boat specialises in sunscreen and produces a range of products, including sunscreen for regular skin, sensitive skin, children and even babies. Banana Boat sunscreens offer broad spectrum SPF 30+ to SPF 50+ protection and claim to be water resistant for up to four hours.


Nivea has been operating for more than 125 years and today claims to be one of the world’s largest skin care brands. It produces childrens’, sport and ultra broad spectrum sunscreens, ranging from SPF 30 to SPF 50+.


SunSense is an Australian-based company that produces a myriad of sun care products. Its sunscreens include a range of broad spectrum SPF 50+ offered in regular and specialised forms such as ultra, sport, sensitive skin and junior.

Cancer Society

As the name suggests, Cancer Society’s objective is to help improve skin care and reduce the likelihood of cancer. Its sunscreens are broad spectrum and come in SPF 30+ as well as SPF 50+.

Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue commissioned I-view to survey 2,500 New Zealand consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used sunscreen in the last 12 months – in this case, 1,425 New Zealanders.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

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