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Consumer Reports names best buys for sunscreen

Tests show some SPF labels unreliable

SAN ANTONIO – Just in time for beach season, Consumer Reports released the results of its latest sunscreen tests, which found the sun protection factor, or SPF, number on the label may not be reliable.

Of 58 sunscreen products tested, 20 tested at less than half of their labeled SPF.

"The sunscreens in our ratings vary significantly in terms of the level of protection they provide," said Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports health editor.

Consumer Reports found several products that provide solid protection against sunburn, skin cancer and wrinkles and won't burn your wallet either.

"One brand that did very well in our tests is Equate from Walmart," Calvo said. "Three of their products are listed as best buys in our ratings."

Those products include Equate's Sport Lotion SPF 50, Equate Ultra Protection Lotion SPF 50 and Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30.

Other products that provide excellent protection at a good value include Trader Joe's Spray SPF 50+, which received a perfect score, and Pure Sun Defense Lotion SPF 50.

Consumer Reports found natural sunscreens did not perform as well and suggested choosing a sunscreen with at least SPF 40 and one that contains chemical active ingredients such as avobenzone, rather than mineral active ingredients such as zinc oxide.

Personal Care Products told Consumer Reports it disagreed with the testing methods and results.

Consumer Reports recommended the following sunscreen lotions:

  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk, $7.20 per ounce, which received a perfect score in Consumer Reports' testing

  • Equate Sport Lotion SPF 50, 63 cents per ounce

  • Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 (Disney's Frozen, Minions Paradise Lotion, Mickey Mouse, Star Wars Lotion, Marvel's Captain America), 75 cents per ounce

  • Coppertone WaterBabies Lotion SPF 50, $1.50 per ounce

  • Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70, $1.50 per ounce

  • Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50, 50 cents per ounce

  • Ocean Potion Protect and Nourish SPF 30, $1 per ounce

  • Aveeno Protect and Hydrate SPF 30, $2.67 per ounce

  • Up & Up (Target) Sheer Dry Touch SPF 30 $1.67 per ounce

Consumer Reports recommended the following spray sunscreen:

  • Trader Joe's SPF 50 plus, $1 per ounce

  • Banana Boat Suncomfort Clear UltraMist SPF 50 plus, $1.67 per ounce

  • Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30, 75 cents per ounce

  • Neutrogena Beach Defense Water Plus Sun Protection, $1.92 per ounce

Consumer Reports recommended the following stick sunscreens:

  • Up & Up (Target) Kids Sunscreen SPF 55, $5.83 per ounce

  • Coppertone Kids Sunscreen SPF 55, $9.17 per ounce

Experts say sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before you go outside and should be reapplied every two hours. It should be applied more often if you get in the water.

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