May 24, 2011 -- Nine of 22 sunscreens tested by Consumer Reports Health earned a ''recommended" or "Best Buy" rating in the organization's latest evaluation.
All nine got excellent marks for protection from UVB rays (which cause sunburn) even after water immersion. All provided very good protection against UVA rays, which penetrate deeper and are linked with aging and tanning.
The results, issued today, are published in the July 2011 Consumer Reports.
"Our ratings are based only on UVA and UVB protection and how well they did in water," says Jamie Hirsh, senior associate editor of Consumer Reports Health. "Our scoring doesn't take into account ingredients."
The Environmental Working Group ratings did take into account active ingredients, among other measures.
Consumer Reports Sunscreen Rankings
Three sunscreens were given the Consumer Reports "Best Buy" rating:
- Up & Up Sport SPF 30
- No-Ad with Aloe and Vitamin E SPF 45
- Equate Baby SPF 50
Six others were recommended:
- Banana Boat Sport Performance SPF 30
- Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof SPF 30
- CVS Fast Cover Sport SPF 30
- Walgreens Sport SPF 50
- Ocean Potion Kids Instant Dry Mist SPF 50
- Banana Boat Sport Performance SPF 100
Other products evaluated include: Soleo Organics All Natural SPF 30+, Badger SPF 30, Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport SPF 30, Avon Skin-So Soft Bug Guard plus IR3535 SPF 30, All Terrain AquaSport performance SPF 30, Burt's Bees Chemical-Free SPF 30, Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50, Bull Frog Marathon Mist with UV Extender SPF 50, LaRoche-Posay Anthelios SPF 40, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 45, Aveeno Continuous Protection SPF 85, Coppertone UltraGuard SPF 70+, and Neutrogena Sensitive Skin SPF 60+.
Despite not making the cut for ''recommended'' or ''best buy,'' none of these got a poor rating on UVA or UVB protection or UVB protection after water immersion.
How the Sunscreens Were Evaluated
An outside laboratory evaluated whether the 22 sprays, creams, and lotions met their labeled claim of a sun protection factor or SPF. This refers to UVB rays.
The lab also evaluated how well the products protected against UVA rays.
It used the four-star system to rate UVA coverage, proposed by the FDA in 2007 but still not finalized. As a result, most product labels simply claim ''broad-spectrum protection."
To test water resistance, the evaluators applied the product to volunteers' backs. The volunteers were submerged in water for 80 minutes. Two products that didn't have a specified time on the label for water resistance were tested for 40 minutes. When volunteers got out of the water, they were exposed to UV rays to test water resistance.
All Terrain AquaSport performance SPF 30 was about 10% below its claimed 30 after water exposure, according to Consumer Reports. But it still received a ''good'' rating for UVB protection after immersion. The maker of the sunscreen disagrees with this finding. Most products were ''very good'' against UVA, but Avon's Skin-so Soft Bug Guard plus IR3535 got only a ''fair'' rating.