Consumer watchdog Which? put popular sunscreens to the test and found bargain brands like Asda and Aldi performed just as well as posh brands like Hawaiian Tropic which costs around £9 a bottle.
Experts tested sunscreens from 15 supermarkets and brands and found they all provided the sun protection factor (SPF) 30 they claimed on the label.
All brands also lived up to their UVA protection claims – vital in protecting people against sunburn and skin cancer.
But the big difference was the price.
All brands performed the same in tests, but there is a £6.61 price difference between supermarket brands and expensive international labels.
A bottle of sunscreen from Aldi, Asda, Lidl or Boots, all costing under £5, will provide just as much protection from the sun as a an expensive brand name.
Nikki Stopford, Which? director of research and publishing, said: "Our findings show that you don't need to spend a lot of money on sunscreens to get the best protection.
"It's encouraging that the brands we tested appear to have upped their game since we started carrying out our rigorous tests – with all the sunscreens we tested for SPF and UVA passing this year.
"We’ve seen some impressive turnarounds – for example, we tested reformulated products from Boots, Hawaiian Tropic and Malibu and all of them have passed our tests since."
But when it came to water-resistance, not all brands performed the same.
Which? found the protection offered by some water-resistant sunscreens plummets after a quick swim.
The watchdog tested two popular sunscreens – one own-brand and one well-known international product – and found the SPF dropped by up to 59 per cent after 40 minutes in salt water – like in swimming pools or the sea.
Current UK tests allow manufacturers to claim their product is water resistant if the SPF drops by 50 per cent after two 20 minute periods in water.
But that's not representative of how most of us spend our time when swimming.
Which? carried out tests in salt water, chlorinated water and fast-moving water – conditions you're more likely to be in on holiday.
After 40 minutes in water the popular international brand was 59 per cent less effective.
WHY IS UVA PROTECTION SO IMPORTANT?
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world.
In the UK, around 13,300 people a year are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, according to Cancer Research UK.
It occurs when damage is caused to the skin cells, most often by UV light from the sun or tanning beds.
UVA and UVB rays are the two main UV rays emitted by the sun.
UVA rays account for up to 95 per cent of UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
UVA penetrates the inner layer of the skin, called the dermis, and UVB mainly affects the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis.
This damage can trigger mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumours.
Spotting the early signs of the disease could make all the difference when it comes to survival.
Experts recommend you check you skin for signs of new moles, or existing ones changing, every couple of month.
The popular own-brand's protection only dropped by 34 per cent, suggesting the cheaper option is actually better for you.
But in reality, sun protection is likely to drop even further – factors such as reflection from water, heat, light, sweat, drying yourself with a towel all reduce the protection of sunscreens, the report added.
Other countries, including Australia and the United States, have stricter requirements where the SPF on the label must be the SPF it provides after immersion in tap water.
Which? is calling for the UK to adopt similar standards.
"Our research shows water resistant sunscreens don't live up to their claims when subjected to rigorous tests – raising serious questions about the current guidelines," Nikki said.
"With 15,400 new cases of melanoma each year, manufacturers should be required to robustly test their products and make only claims that can be relied on, ensuring holidaymakers know they can trust their sunscreen to protect them."
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