Consumer Reports: Super Sunscreens

May 15, 2012

Whether you're relaxing on the beach or enjoying the waves, it's critically important to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun.

Consumer Reports has tested 18 sunscreens -- mostly sprays and lotions – from brands like Banana Boat and Coppertone to Neutrogena and Aveeno.

"We test to see how well the sunscreens protect against two types of radiation-- UVB, which causes sunburn, and UVA, which penetrates deeper, resulting in tanning and aging of the skin," said Nicole Sarrubbo of Consumer Reports.

Both types contribute to skin cancer. So, it's important to use a sunscreen that protects against both.

To test, Consumer Reports applies sunscreen to panelists' backs, then exposes them to either UVA or UVB rays.

Testers also check water resistance. Panelists sit in water for up to 80 minutes, depending on the product's claims.

"We also performed a new critical wavelength test mandated by a FDA that determines if the sunscreen offers a sufficient level of UVA protection," said Sarrubbo.

Two products that claim both UVA and UVB protection failed this test: Banana Boat Kids and Alba Botanica.

But for fun in the sun without the worry, Consumer Reports did find two very good, inexpensive sunscreens: No-Ad SPF 45 and Walgreen's Continuous Spray Sunscreen Sport SPF 50. Both rated very good against UVA and excellent against UVB radiation, making them great options for your next day at the beach.

The FDA is currently investigating spray-on sunscreens and whether inhaling the spray poses a danger. Until more is known, Consumer Reports says it's best to avoid using sprays on children.

And never spray directly onto your face. Instead, spray into your hands and rub the sunscreen onto your face.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2008. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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