Across the past four years, researchers at Consumer Reports have tested over 100 different products of sunscreen and found that more than half of them fell short of their SPF labels. Not to mention sometimes labels can be confusing. With all the different scientific terms on them it is hard to know what to buy to keep your family safe. So before you head to the lake, here are some things you may want to know before throwing any old bottle of sunscreen into your bag.

SPF, the higher the better, true or false.
— Basically true
SPF stands for sun protection factor. Naturally, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 will be more protective than one with an SPF of 15. However, it is important to note that the difference between these numbers in terms of how well they shield you from the sun is very small. After reaching an SPF label of 50, the variances in protection levels are minute. The best line of defense is to generously reapply sunscreen periodically throughout the day.

Broad spectrum is crucial.
— True
Broad spectrum lotion protects people from all of the sun’s harmful rays. Lotions lacking the broad spectrum label do not protect from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause the skin to wrinkle and age more quickly, while UVB rays are responsible for causing the skin to burn. Thus, buying nonbroad spectrum lotions will expose purchasers to the threat of quickly aging skin.

Spray sunscreen is just as good as lotion.
— Undecided
As far as performance, when applied correctly spray may be on an even playing field with lotion – there are mixed reviews on this. However, it is harder to tell how well you have applied these often-transparent mists. For that reason, consumers may find themselves going through spray more quickly than lotion to ensure they are covered. Therefore, it may be more cost-efficient to purchase lotion.

Is waterproof actually waterproof?
— Sort of
Lotions bearing the water-resistant label are true to their description, but only for a short amount of time. For instance, an average waterproof label guarantees you only 40 minutes in the water before the sunscreen wears off, and extreme water-resistant labels offer 80 minutes of use in the pool before they lose their effect.

All-natural/mineral sunscreens are better to use.
— False
Mineral-based sunscreen performed far worse than chemical ones. According to Consumer Reports, 74 percent of nonchemical-based sunscreens do not meet their SPF label. These sunscreens have titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or a combination of the two as active ingredients.

Here are the best-performing sunscreens, according to Consumer Reports’ study:

  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk ($36)
  • Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 ($6.30)
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 ($10.50)
  • Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 50 ($7.85)
  • No-Ad Sport SPF 50 ($10)
  • Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+ ($6)
  • Banana Boat SunComfort Continuous Spray SPF 50+ ($10)
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection SPF 70 ($10.50)
  • Caribbean Breeze Continuous Tropical Mist SPF 70 ($16.60)
  • Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30 ($4.98)

While sunscreen is an absolute essential for summer safety, experts recommend using other measures to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. It’s safe to say a hat never hurt anyone, covering your body with clothes is a good idea and the shade is always your friend.

Mayo Clinic
Consumer Reports
Today Show
Spray Sunscreen– Consumer Reports

– Callie Smith

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