Which sunscreens protect you best?

Consumer Reports makes recommendations

SAN ANTONIO – Whether you’re headed out to a Fiesta parade or to the beach, it’s important to slather yourself with a good sunscreen.

Consumer Reports just tested dozens of lotions, sprays and sticks and found you don’t have to pay top dollar to buy one that works well.

Testers evaluated how well sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB rays. The sun’s rays can cause aging, skin cancer, and sunburn. Sensory specialists also evaluated the scent and feel of each sunscreen.

To test for SPF, the sun protection factor, testers applied sunscreen to small areas on panelists’ backs before they soaked in a tub for 40 or 80 minutes, depending on the sunscreen’s water-resistance claim. The area was then exposed to simulated sunlight. The next day, trained experts examined the area for redness.

To test for protection against UVA rays, testers applied sunscreen to plastic plates, exposed them to UV light, and then measured the amount of absorbed rays.

Testers found considerable differences in performance, even among products from the same brand. In particular, some sunscreens in CR’s testing don’t always provide the level of protection that’s listed on the label.

A top sunscreen lotion from this year’s tests is Coppertone Water Babies Lotion SPF 50, which outperformed its labeled SPF in CR’s testing. It’s not just for babies, but it might not be for everyone because sensory experts found the lotion left a sheen and a greasy film on the testers’ skin.

Eucerin Advanced Hydration Spray SPF 50 was the best spray sunscreen. Its average tested SPF came close to its labeled SPF 50. Sensory experts found it left a slight draggy film on testers’ skin.

For sunscreen that’s easier on the budget, Equate Walmart Ultra Lotion SPF 50 is CR’s most affordable recommended lotion, while Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+ is its most affordable recommended spray.

Remember, no matter what sunscreen you choose, how you apply it matters.

For lotions, you should use about a teaspoon per body part or area not covered by clothing, and for sprays, apply enough that your skin glistens, then rub it in.

And remember, it’s also important to reapply sunscreen every two hours and immediately after swimming or sweating.

About the Author

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

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