SAN ANTONIO – It’s the season to slather on the sunscreen. Just in time for family trips to the beach, the pools or just plenty of time soaking up sunshine, Consumer Reports is out with its sunscreen tests.
To check SPF, sun protection factor, testers applied 48 sunscreen lotions and sprays to volunteers’ backs. After a tub soak for the prescribed time to test water resistance claims, the subjects were exposed to simulated sunlight. Then, the experts examined the skin for redness. SPF pertains to the sun’s UVB rays, the ones that cause sunburns.
The lotion that got top scores among those tested this year was Equate Sport lotion SPF 50 from Walmart. At $4, it won’t burn your budget, either.
The spray that came out on top was Hawaiian Tropic Sport with SPF 30.
When it comes to applying sunscreen, a common mistake is not using enough.
“If you’re using a lotion, you’ll need to use about a teaspoon per body part or area that’s not covered up with clothing,” said Consumer Reports’ Trisha Calvo.
As for sprays, they can be convenient but tricky because it’s hard to tell if you’re fully covered.
“The proper way to use a spray is to hold the nozzle about four to six inches from your skin and spray until your skin glistens,” she said. “Then, rub it in. Smoothing it into the skin increases its protection. Then, repeat, just to be safe.”
Never spray into your face, she said. Instead, spray into your hands and rub onto your face. And, be careful using sprays on children because they are more likely to inhale the mist.
All of Consumer Reports’ top-rated sunscreens contain chemical active ingredients. If you prefer a mineral or natural sunscreen, their tests found that California Kids Super Sensitive Tinted Lotion SPF 30 plus provided adequate protection.
When buying sunscreen, experts advise looking for the term “broad spectrum” on the product. That means it also protects against the sun’s UVA rays, which can cause damage that may lead to cancer and wrinkles.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends at least an SPF 30. Consumer Reports’ tests found that many sunscreens fall short of the labeled amount of SPF.
More Consumer Reports sunscreen ratings can be found here.