5 On Your Side

Stay protected this summer with top-rated sunscreen

Posted June 17, 2015

Whether it's the beach or the pool, sunscreen is essential to fight sunburn, skin damage and cancer. Most dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of 30 or higher.

Consumer Reports tested 34 sunscreens to see if they deliver. Almost a third of the sunscreens tested had SPFs below what was promised.

Banana Boat Sport Spray claims an SPF 50 plus, but only averaged an SPF 24. Cucumbers Natural claims an SPF 30 but only averaged 14.

Look for sunscreens that promise "broad spectrum,” which should provide both UVA and UVB protection.

UVA rays are linked to skin damage and cancer.

"The worst is this Aloe Gator Gel,” Trisha Calvo of Consumer Reports said. “It really fell down when it came to UVA protection."

Consumer Reports rated three sunscreens as best buys: No-Ad Sport SPF 50 lotion for $10; Wal-Mart's Equate brand Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30, listed at $8; and Ultra Protection lotion SPF 50 for $9.

The report included several sunscreens that claim to be "natural," containing minerals as their active ingredients—either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

None of the five natural sunscreens tested is recommended. They didn't deliver adequate broad spectrum protection.

A Northwestern University study found 43 percent of those surveyed understood the definition of sun protection factor. Only seven percent knew what to look for in sunscreen to ward off early skin aging.

Researchers say changes may be in store for sunscreen labels to help better understand the information.


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