The best and the worst sunscreens

Consumer Reports tests sunscreens and finds eleven products that didn’t meet their SPF claims. Results reveal many provide excellent protection from UVA & UVB rays, some at a low cost; Natural sunscreens don’t work all that well according to CR’s tests.

YONKERS, NY –Consumer Reports recently tested 34 sunscreens and found almost a third of them didn’t meet the SPF claim on their labels, missing the mark by anywhere from 16 to 70 percent.

But there’s good news too: many of the sunscreens Consumer Reports tested met their SPF claims and some of the most effective products were also the lowest-priced.

Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 lotion, $10.50 (8 ounces), Equate (Walmart) Ultra Protection SPF 50 lotion, $9.00 (16 ounces), and Banana Boat SunComfort Continuous Spray SPF 50+, $11.00 (6 ounces), all delivered top-notch protection and met their SPF claims.

Consumer Reports’ highest-rated sunscreen, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk (SPF 60), received a perfect score of 100 but cost the most of those tested – $36.00 for a 5-ounce bottle.

The full report, which also features proper sunscreen-applications tips, complete product Ratings, and more, is available in the July 2015 issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Consumer Reports found that eight of the eleven sunscreens that didn’t meet their SPF claims had an SPF below 30. For example, Yes To Cucumbers Natural SPF 30 had an average SPF of just 14.  Sunscreens from Babyganics, Banana Boat, CVS, EltaMD, Hawaiian Tropic, Walgreens, and Vanicream also had SPF levels below their claims and less than SPF 30.

Although they didn’t meet their SPF claims, three sunscreens still had an SPF higher than 30 and are worth considering: Coppertone UltraGuard SPF 70+ tested as an SPF 59, Coppertone ClearlySheer for Beach & Pool SPF 50+ tested as an SPF 37, and Banana Boat Sport Performance with Powerstay Technology SPF 100 tested as an SPF 36.

Natural Sunscreens

Though “natural” has no real definition on a sunscreen label, the term is often used to refer to products that contain only the minerals zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as active ingredients.  Mineral sunscreens are less likely than those that contain chemicals (such as avobenzone) to irritate skin or cause allergic reactions.

Consumer Reports has found that these so-called naturals are also less likely to offer skin the complete protection it needs. Out of the five mineral sunscreens tested, only two met their SPF claims.  California Baby Super Sensitive SPF 30+, $20.00 (2.9 ounces), didn’t receive high enough scores to be recommended, but it was the only mineral sunscreen that got a good rating for UVA and UVB protection; titanium dioxide is the active ingredient.  Goddess Garden Organics Sunny Body Natural 30 also met its SPF claim, but didn’t earn high scores for UVA protection. (SOURCE: Consumer Reports)

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