Consumer Reports: Top 6 Best & Worst Sunscreens – Will Surprise Most

Sunscreen

Best & Worst Sunscreens

Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan via Compfight cc

As we officially kick off the pool season this Memorial weekend it time to start slapping on the sunscreen. But which one? Just like with everything else these days there are about 500 choices. Well according to a study done by Consumer Reports some actually better than others and in this case the whole “You get what you pay for” cliche doesn’t really apply.

Not All Sunscreens Are Created Equal Pricey

In its new sunscreen ratings evaluation, Consumer Reports found that paying more for sunscreen doesn’t always mean better protection.”Some of our best products were also the least expensive,” says Nicole Sarrubbo, associate editor forConsumer Reports.Some of the pricier sunscreens, in fact, did not live up to the SPF (sun protection factor) value on the label, the testers found. 

Top Sunscreens This Year



Consumer Reports regularly rates sunscreens, and this time picked 12 popular products from a variety of stores. They took into account protection from UVA and UVB, how much the product stained clothing, and the cost per ounce.

Six got recommended ratings:

  • Target’s Up & Up Sport, at the top spot, costs $1.16 an ounce.
  • Walmart’s Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50, is just 47 cents an ounce. It won the CR Best Buy award of the dozen.
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50, at $1.38 an ounce.
  • Walgreens Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50, at $1.33 an ounce.
  • Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch SPF 30, at $1.38 an ounce.
  • Coppertone Sport High Performance SPF 30, at $1.67 an ounce.

The six that didn’t get recommended ratings include:

  • California Baby SPF 30+, at $6.90 an ounce (discontinued, but may still be available).
  • No-Ad with Avobenzone, Aloe, and Vitamin E SPF 45, at 63 cents an ounce.
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin SPF 45+, at $3.67 an ounce.
  • Kiss My Face with Hydresia SPF 40, at $5.33 an ounce.
  • Badger Unscented SPF 34, at $5.52 an ounce (discontinued, but may still be available).
  • All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30, at $4.33 an ounce.

Sunscreen Test Results

Sunscreens were tested in lab tests and on people in the lab, using a sun simulator. Testers were observed for sunburn to gauge UVB effectiveness and were observed for tanning to evaluate UVA protection.

UVA rays pierce the skin more deeply than UVB. But both types are linked with skin cancer.  More than 3.5 million cases of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed a year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. This year, more than 76,000 people will learn they have the most deadly skin cancer, melanoma.

In the rating, four products were found to have nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, which help sunscreen disappear (California Baby SPF 30+, Kiss My Face with Hydresia SPF 40, Badger Unscented SPF 34, All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30). Some studies question the particles’ safety. But the researchers say the benefits of sunscreens ”outweigh potential risks from their ingredients.”

Most sunscreens left stains that didn’t wash out of the cotton, polyester, or rayon/spandex swatches used in the tests.

Experts from the Personal Care Products Council, which includes sunscreen manufacturers, were not immediately available to comment on the study and its findings.

Dermatologist’s Opinion

It’s no surprise that some of the less expensive sunscreens came out on top, says H. Ray Jalian, MD, a dermatologist at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. He reviewed the findings and has no affiliation with sunscreen makers.

The basic ingredients in sunscreens are often similar, he says. “What you are paying for [in more expensive sunscreens] are cosmetic things — the way it feels on your skin.”

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Best & Worst Sunscreens

Sources: WebMD

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