5 On Your Side

Popular brands rate poorly in sunscreen tests

Posted May 24, 2012 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated June 13, 2012 8:24 a.m. EDT

With the holiday weekend right around the corner and the forecast full of sunshine, thousands of people will spend time outside in the coming days. 

If statistics hold true, some of those people will be diagnosed with skin cancer from too much time spent in the sun. More than 1 million people are diagnosed annually, a growing problem that can be helped by one simple step – using sunscreen. 

Consumer Reports recently tested 18 sunscreens – both sprays and lotions – from popular brands like Banana Boat and Coppertone to no-name brands to see which formulas do the best job blocking out the rays. 

Testers analyzed sunscreens for protection against two types of radiation: UVB, which causes sunburn, and UVA, which penetrates deeper and results in tanning and the aging of the skin.

Both types of radiation can contribute to skin cancer. 

Testers also checked water resistance, depending on what each product claimed on the bottle. 

"We also performed a new critical wavelength test mandated by the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) that determines if the sunscreen offers a sufficient level of UVA protection," Consumer Reports' Nicole Sarrubbo said. 

Banana Boat Kids and Alba Botanica, two brands that claim both UVA and UVB protection, failed Consumer Reports' tests. 

No-Ad SPF 45 and Walgreen's Continuous Spray Sunscreen Sport SPF 50 both offer good protection at a value price. Consumer Reports said both tested "very good" against UVA and "excellent" against UVB radiation, and testers said each had a classic beach-like aroma. 

Consumer Reports also recommends that parents avoid using spray sunscreens on children because of potential danger due to inhalation of the spray. Until an FDA investigation is complete, Consumer Reports says people should spray sunscreen on their hands and rub it in.