Before you head out to enjoy some fun in the sun, you want to make sure to protect yourself with some sunscreen. But you better make sure that sunscreen is providing the protection it promises.
Consumer Reports tested twenty brands and said almost all of them had an SPF below what was listed on the packaging.
The best sunscreens offer broad spectrum protection against UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays, which are linked to skin aging. Both types of ultraviolet rays contribute to skin cancer.
In its tests of 20 sunscreens, Consumer Reports found two products – BullFrog WaterAmor Sport InstaCool SPF 50+ and Coppertone Sensitive Skin SPF 50 – that provided the SPF promised on the label.
Consumer Reports is recommending seven sunscreens from Banana Boat, BullFrog, Coppertone, Equate (Walmart), Neutrogena, Up & Up (Target) and Well (Walgreens). While not all of them met the SPF claimed on their labels, the recommended sunscreens all provided very good to excellent protection overall as well as against UVA and UVB rays individually.
Walmart's Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 and Target's Up & Up SPF 50 Sport Spray were ranked as best buys.
The group also recommends three spray-on sunscreens: BullFrog Water Armor Sport InstaCool SPF 50+, Walgreen's store-brand sunscreen called Well at Walgreens Sport SPF 50 and Banana Boat Ultra Defense Max Skin Protect SPF 110.
Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 and Neutrogena Ultimate Sport SPF 70+ lotions were also recommended.
Beyond Coastal Natural sunscreen and Banana Boat Kids were the worst offenders, with an actual SPF below 15 despite claiming twice as much or more
For the full report and Ratings of 20 sunscreens tests, check out the July 2014 issue of Consumer Reports and www.ConsumerReports.org.