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Your sunscreen may not deliver claimed SPF

Consumer Reports tests yield 15 recommendations

SAN ANTONIO – Most dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen that delivers an SPF, or sun protection factor, of 30 of higher. The SPF indicates the amount of protection you get from the sun's UVB rays, which cause sunburn and increase the risk of skin cancer. Consumer Reports tested 34 lotions and sprays to see whether they deliver what they claim.

Technicians applied sunscreen to panelists' backs and had them soak in a tub for 40 or 80 minutes, depending on the product's water-resistance claim. Then the area was exposed to UVB light. The next day, the test area was examined for redness.

Almost a third of the sunscreens tested had SFP's below what was promised. For example, the maker of Banana Boat Sport Spray claims it has an SPF of more than 50, but it  had an SPF of only 24, on average. And the company that makes Yes to Cucumbers Natural claims it has an SPF 30, but it had only 14, on average.

You want a sunscreen that's also effective against UVA rays, which are linked to skin damage and cancer. Sunscreens sold as "broad spectrum" should provide both UVA and UVB protection.

But in Consumer Reports' lab tests, some of the sunscreens didn't adequately guard against UVA rays. The worst was Aloe Gator Gel.

Consumer Reports did find 15 sunscreens to recommend, and these were named Best Buys:

  • No-Ad Sport SPF 50 lotion for $10
  • Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30 for $8 from Walmart
  • Equate Ultra Protection lotion SPF 50 for $9 from Walmart

Consumer Reports included several sunscreens that contain minerals as their active ingredients — either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. None of the five are recommended. They didn't deliver adequate broad-spectrum protection.

2015 Top Sunscreens

The report covers sunscreens from small and large makers, and they vary in price.

The only one that earned a full 100% score is La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk, SPF 60. At $7.20 an ounce, it's also the priciest.

Here are the other 14 on the recommended list.

  • Vichy Capital Soleil 50 Lightweight Foaming Lotion, SPF 50, at $5.94 an ounce
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50, at $1.31 an ounce
  • Equate Ultra Protection, SPF 50, at $.56 an ounce
  • No-Ad Sport SPF 50, at $.63 an ounce
  • Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish, SPF 30, at $1 an ounce
  • Aveeno Protect+Hydrate, SPF 30, at $3.33 an ounce
  • Up & Up Ultra Sheer, SPF 30, at $1.63 an ounce
  • Banana Boat SunComfort Continuous Spray, SPF 50+, at $1.83 an ounce
  • L'Oreal Quick Dry Sheer Finish (spray) 50+, at $2.44 an ounce
  • Coppertone Sport High Performance AccuSpray, SPF 30, at $1.58 an ounce
  • Equate Sport Continuous Spray, SPF 30, at $1.33 an ounce
  • Coppertone UltraGuard, SPF 70+, at $1.38 an ounce
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection, SPF 70, at $1.62 an ounce
  • Caribbean Breeze Continuous Tropical Mist (spray), SPF 70, at $2.75 an ounce

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