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Consumer Reports Recommends 7 of 20 Sunscreens

May 20, 2014 -- Only 2 of 20 sunscreens tested provide the promised level of SPF protection after being in water, according to Consumer Reports’ annual sunscreen test. Only seven of 20 products earned a recommendation.

"Consumers just need to be careful when they buy sunscreen, that they are looking at the labels and questioning the information they are reading,” says Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports deputy editor.

Shoppers should remember that ''only three claims are regulated by the FDA -- SPF, broad spectrum, and water resistance,” Calvo says.

The report is published in the July issue of Consumer Reports.

2014 Top Sunscreens

"We tested popular sunscreens from top manufacturers as well as some from small manufacturers," Calvo says. All had to have an SPF claim of at least 30, be broad spectrum (protect against both UVA and UVB rays), and be water-resistant.

UVB rays can cause both sunburn and skin cancer. UVA rays are responsible for aging the skin, and they contribute to skin cancer, including the most deadly form known as melanoma. Experts measured the products' SPF (sun protection factor), or how well it guards against UVB rays, after the testers went in the water.

They also considered cost.

The seven sunscreens that earned recommendations are:

  • Banana Boat's Ultra Defense Max Skin Protect SPF 110 spray, at $1.75 an ounce.
  • BullFrog Water Armor Sport InstaCool SPF 50+ spray, at $1.67 an ounce. This was one of the two screens that lived up to its SPF claim.
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50, at $1.38 an ounce.
  • Neutrogena Ultimate Sport SPF 70+ lotion, at $2.75 an ounce.
  • Target's Up & Up Spray Sport SPF 50 spray, at $0.80 an ounce.
  • Walgreens' Well Sport SPF 50 spray, at $1.58 an ounce
  • Walmart's Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50, at $0.56 an ounce.

These 13 did not earn recommended ratings:

  • Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sport SPF 45, at $2.75 an ounce.
  • Banana Boat Kids SPF 50, at $1.25 an ounce.
  • Banana Boat Sport Performance CoolZone SPF 30 spray, at $1.42 an ounce.
  • Beyond Coastal Natural SPF 30, at $4 an ounce.
  • California Baby Super Sensitive SPF 30+, at $6.90 an ounce.
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin SPF 50, at $1.67 an ounce. This sunscreen lived up to its SPF claim, but only earned a “fair” rating for UVA protection.
  • Coppertone Sport High Performance SPF 30 spray, at $1.67 an ounce.
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple SPF 50, at $1.31 an ounce.
  • CVS Sheer Mist SPF 30 spray, at $1.80 an ounce.
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 30 spray, at $1.90 an ounce.
  • No-Ad Sport SPF 50, at $0.63 an ounce.
  • Target's Up & Up Kids SPF 50, at $0.64 an ounce.
  • Walgreens' Well Baby SPF 50, at $0.80 an ounce.

Brush up on Beauty

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