Farah Ahmed, chair of the Sunscreen Task Force of the Personal Care Products Council, an industry group, reviewed both the Consumer Reports and the Environmental Working Group reports for WebMD.
"What Consumer Reports did was a far better way to evaluate sunscreens," she says. Consumer Reports, she says, "did testing in a clinical setting, which is what you are supposed to do."
Ahmed points to an analysis published in 2010 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology finding no convincing evidence that retinyl palmitate in sunscreens causes cancer.
David Kulow, president of All Terrain, disagrees with the Consumer Reports finding that his sunscreen, labeled with an SPF of 30, fell 10% short after water immersion.
He provided to WebMD the lab report finding the SPF claim was on target. "We have independent testing results from BioScreen Testing Services Inc., in Torrance, Calif., that refute this finding" of an inadequate SPF, he says.
Tips for Sun Protection
Besides its recommendation of sunscreen products, Consumer Reports advises:
- Don't rely on sunscreen alone. Wear protective clothing. Limit time spent in the sun.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours or so and after sweating or swimming.
- Use about 2-3 tablespoons of sunscreen on most of your body. Spray forms should be sprayed, rubbed in, and then reapplied.
- Expensive isn't necessarily better. The pricey La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 40, at nearly $19 an ounce, got an overall score of 79. No-Ad with Aloe and Vitamin E SPF 45 got a score of 89. It costs 59 cents, according to Consumer Reports.