Sunscreen SPF claims may not be reliable

Consumer Reports tests 20 sunscreens

Consumer Reports' tests of 20 sunscreens revealed you can't necessarily rely on the SPF listed on the label.

They tested 20 sprays and lotions that claim to be water-resistant and provide broad spectrum protection.

"Broad spectrum means they should protect against two types of ultraviolet rays: UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays, which are linked to skin aging," said Consumer Reports' Jamie Kopf. "Both types contribute to skin cancer."

Eighteen of the 20 sunscreens tested came in below the SPF they promise on their packages, although except for two, they did provide adequate protection.

"We can't say why our test results differ from the manufacturers'," Kopf said. "In some cases, we found the SPF was off by just a little. But, two sunscreens were off by much more."

Beyond Coastal Natural claimed an SPF of 30, but testers found it was below 15.

Banana Boat Kids' SPF was also below 15, though it claimed SPF 50.

The tests also found several of the sunscreens are less effective than others at protecting against UVA rays.

Consumer Reports did find seven to recommend, including two they named the best buys. Those are Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 from Walmart for $9 and the spray Up & Up Sport SPF 50 from Target for $8.

CR Recommended:

  • Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 from Walmart
  • Up & Up Sport Spray SPF 50  from Target
  • BullFrog Water Armor Sport InstaCool SPF 50plus (spray)
  • Well at Walgreens Sport SPF 50 from Walgreens (spray)
  • Banana Boat Ultra Defense Max Skin Protect SPF 110 (spray)
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 (lotion)
  • Neutrogena Ultimate Sport SPF 70 plus (lotion)

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.

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