Why It’s Time To Ditch The VAT On SPF

40% of people skip buying sunscreen unless on holiday because of the cost.


by Verity Clark |
Published on

How often to you wear sunscreen? Be honest. We’ll hazard a guess you’re not wearing it right now. In fact, a new YouGov survey has found that just 22% of Brits apply SPF daily.

‘But it adds another skincare step. The UK isn’t even sunny!’ say sun protection refuseniks. Excuses that consultant dermatologist Dr Derrick Phillips is quick to dismiss. ‘A lack of daily sunscreen use has obvious tell-tale signs,’ he says, citing fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation as early signs of sun damage.

Vanity aside, there’s another more worrying side effect of not being a committed sunscreen user. Skin cancer. ‘UV radiation can damage the DNA of skin cells, resulting in mutations that may develop into skin cancer,’ warns Phillips. Clouds and windows are no match for UV radiation, which can penetrate both. Out of the 16,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed each year in the UK, it’s estimated that 90% could be prevented with better sun safety. It’s sobering stuff.

Holly Thaggard, founder of cult sunscreen brand Supergoop!, made a rallying cry to a room full of beauty editors recently, saying, ‘If there were a cream that stopped breast cancer, we’d slather it on every day.’ Given that SPF is the best protection we currently have against specific types of skin cancer, not wearing it is foolish at best, dangerous at worst.

Why, then, the widespread reluctance to wear sunscreen every day? The rise of the #antisunscreen movement has seen influencers and celebrities – including Love Island’s Belle Hassan and Laguna Beach’s Kristin Cavallari – take to TikTok and podcasts to slam sunscreen. Their reservations about the efficacy of SPF are unfounded, says Phillips, stressing that ‘SPF is an efficient way to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation.’

However, a major reason that 40% of people skip buying sunscreen unless on holiday is the cost. According to the YouGov survey, 64% of people say it’s just too expensive. That’s why Amy Callaghan, MP for East Dunbartonshire in Scotland and herself a skin cancer survivor, is on a mission to make SPF more affordable and more widely used. She is currently petitioning for the Government to remove the VAT on all SPF products with her VAT Burn campaign.

Supporting the petition is e-tailer Face The Future – its campaign, 366 Days of SPF (a leap year calls for a bonus day of sun protection), aims to encourage a daily sunscreen habit. Shoppers on the site can currently enjoy cheaper suncare as the brand has removed VAT from all its sun protection products until 31 May. Wondering which is the best sunscreen to stock up on? Heed Phillips’ advice: ‘It’s the one that you’re happy to wear every day.’
Sign the petition to remove VAT from SPF products here.


Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us