Is Wearing Sunscreen Bad For Your Motor?

Mon 24th Jun 2019

New research has found that sunscreen may protect us from skin damage, but the chemicals inside the creams might actually be damaging our cars.

The news comes from Ford’s research labs, who have discovered that sun creams may offer strong protection from the sun and have anti-ageing qualities, but they have the complete opposite effect when they make contact with a car.

The chemicals in suncreams, hand sanitisers and insect repellents are all thought to react with the plastic surfaces inside cars and with the use of santisting gels on the rise, it is a problem which car manufacturers will need to tackle.

“From hand sanitisers to sun lotions to insect repellent, consumer trends are constantly changing, and new products are coming on to the market all the time,” said Mark Montgomery, senior materials engineer at Ford’s Materials Technology Centre. “Even the most innocuous seeming product can cause problems when they come into contact with surfaces hundreds and even thousands of times a year.”

It’s thought that the high levels of ethanol within these products and hot weather temperatures are the worst possible combination for our leather and plastic interiors, and with the sunshine forcing us to wear more sunscreen it can be a vicious circle of damage.

Materials engineer Richard Kyle, materials engineer, explains: “There were instances of particularly high wear in Turkey and we managed to trace it back to ethanol potentially being a contributing factor, and most likely a popular hand sanitiser that contained 80 per cent ethanol – far higher than anything we’d seen before.”

Ford’s scientists are now working on ensuring that their car interiors can deal with the heat and not react with those chemicals, with new materials tested for heats of up to 74°C, but also -30°C at the other end of the scale.