5 On Your Side

Some sunscreens provide less than half of promised protection, study says

Posted May 25

Summer time means pool time, and for many people, that means hours in the sun.

Using sunscreen is a smart move for pool- and beach-goers because it not only helps protect you from sunburn, but also wrinkles and even skin cancer.

Not all lotions and sprays are created equal, though.

Consumer Reports employees offered to get burned to find the best sunscreen, and some of the protectors failed to provide the promised SPF protection.

Of the 58 products, 20 tested at less than half of their labeled SPF.

Some sunscreens provide less than half of promised protection, study says

The good news, though, is that a number of options do provide solid protection at a good value.

"One brand that did very well in our tests is Equate from Wal-Mart," said Consumer Reports' Trisha Calvo. "Three of their products are listed as best buys in our ratings."

Those include Equate's Sport Lotion SPF 50, Ultra Protection Lotion SPF 50 and Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30.

Other best buys include Trader Joe's Spray SPF 50+, which got a perfect score in the ratings, and Pure Sun Defense Lotion SPF 50.

If you can't find one of the recommended products, Consumer Reports says get a sunscreen with at least 40 SPF with chemical active ingredients such as avobenzone, rather than one with mineral active ingredients like zinc oxide.

To be the most effective, sunscreen needs to be applied properly—at least one teaspoon to each body part 15 to 30 minutes before going out, and it needs to be reapplied every two hours.

Some sunscreens provide less than half of promised protection, study says

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