The sunscreen you buy might not be protecting your skin as well as you think.
The Food and Drug Administration requires sunscreens to live up to the sun protection factor — SPF — listed on the label, but Consumer Reports says some are falling short.
Sunscreens put to the test: Which brands meet the claim on the label
For its Sunscreen Guide, Consumer Reports looked at more than 60 lotions, sprays and sticks with SPF claims of 30 or higher. But 28 of them – 43% – failed to meet the claim on the label.
Mineral-based sunscreens performed worse than chemical ones, Consumer Reports found.
The magazine said this year’s results were not a surprise. In fact, it’s a trend. The group has reported similar results for four years straight:
These results aren’t a fluke. We have seen a similar pattern in the past four years of our sunscreen testing. Of all the sunscreens we’ve tested over that stretch of time, nearly half came in below the SPF number printed on the label, and a third registered below an SPF 30, the minimum level recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.
The best sunscreens for your money
While some sunscreens didn’t do so well in this report, here’s a bright spot. More than a handful of products provided excellent UVA and UVB protection – and for a good price.
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk for $36.00 (this one is expensive, but CR gave it a perfect score of 100!)
- Pure Sun Defense Disney Frozen SPF 50 for $6.30 ($0.79 per ounce)
- Equate (Walmart) Ultra Protection SPF 50 for $7.85 ($0.49 per ounce)
- No-Ad Sport SPF 50 for $10.00 ($0.63 per ounce)
- Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+ for $6.00 ($1.00 per ounce)
- Banana Boat SunComfort Continuous Spray SPF 50+ for $10.00
- Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection SPF 70 for $10.50
- Equate (Walmart) Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30 for $4.98 ($0.83 per ounce); Named as a “Best Buy” by CR
To read more about the findings, consider a subscription to Consumer Reports.
Check the label for 3 things
No matter which brand you choose, make sure your sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection (UVA and UVB rays), SPF 30 or higher, and water resistance.
Buying sunscreen is only the first step
The real problem with sunscreen, according to dermatologists, is that most people are applying only about half the recommended amount.
Here are some tips from the American Academy of Dermatology:
- Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skin that will be not be covered by clothing.
- Follow the guideline of “1 ounce, enough to fill a shot glass,” which dermatologists consider the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body.
- Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outside.
- Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle.
Slip, Slop, Slap & Wrap!
Skin cancer is the most common cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, but it’s preventable.
So, remember to SLIP on a shirt, SLOP on sunscreen, SLAP on a hat and WRAP on sunglasses to protect you and your family from the sun’s harmful rays.