Summer is here and it’s time for anyone who is going to spend time in the sun to start thinking about sunscreens. Sunscreen is measured by the SPF or sun protection factor. The sun protection factor of a sunscreen is a laboratory measure of the effectiveness of sunscreen — the higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against the ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn and even skin cancer. In its new sunscreen ratings evaluation, Consumer Reports found that paying more for sunscreen doesn’t always mean better protection. Some of our best products were also the least expensive.
Some of the pricier sunscreens, in fact, did not live up to the SPF (sun protection factor) value on the label, the testers found. Two sunscreens — All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30 and Badger Unscented SPF 34 — were rated poor in protecting against ultravilot rays.
Top Sunscreens This Year
Consumer Reports regularly rates sunscreens, and this time picked 12 popular products from a variety of stores. They took into account protection from UVA and UVB, how much the product stained clothing, and the cost per ounce.
Six got recommended ratings:
• Target’s Up & Up Sport, at the top spot, costs $1.16 an ounce.
• Walmart’s Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50, is just 47 cents an ounce. It won the CR Best Buy award of the dozen.
• Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50, at $1.38 an ounce.
• Walgreens Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50, at $1.33 an ounce.
• Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch SPF 30, at $1.38 an ounce.
• Coppertone Sport High Performance SPF 30, at $1.67 an ounce.
The six that didn’t get recommended ratings include:
• California Baby SPF 30+, at $6.90 an ounce (discontinued, but may still be available).
• No-Ad with Avobenzone, Aloe, and Vitamin E SPF 45, at 63 cents an ounce.
• Neutrogena Wet Skin SPF 45+, at $3.67 an ounce.
• Kiss My Face with Hydresia SPF 40, at $5.33 an ounce.
• Badger Unscented SPF 34, at $5.52 an ounce (discontinued, but may still be available).
All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30, at $4.33 an ounce.
Bottom Line: If you are going to spend any significant time in the sun, be sure to use a good sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50.