When it comes to sunscreen, more expensive in not always better.
On Aug 26, 2013
Consumer Reports study shows store brands are top in sunscreen ratings
Those who subscribe to the axiom, "you get what you pay for" may be in for a surprise when they read about the results of a new Consumer Reports study. In a study ranking effectiveness of multiple store brand and brand name sunscreens, Consumer Reports found that the Target and Walmart store brands ranked the highest in protection against UVA and UVB rays.
- Target brand: Up&Up Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50
- Walmart brand: Equate Ultra Protection Lotion SPF 50
Coincidentally, these two sunscreens which offerred the greatest UVA and UVB protection were also among the least expensive. Of note, some of the priciest sunscreens offerred less protection than their stated SPF value. For a reminder of how to interpret SPF protection, take a look at our article, "What does SPF mean? - Understanding Sun Protection Factor."
- Walgreens brand: Sport Continuous Spray SPF 50
- Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 lotion
Six sunscreens, including the winners and the runners-up mentioned above, rated Very Good overall. These sunscreens protected against UVB rays before and after 80 minutes under water. They also offerred Very Good protection against UVA rays. Price wise, the top ranking sunscreens were able to offer this protection at the price less than $1.67 per ounce.
Some sunscreens didn't live up to their promised values of SPF protection. All Terain Aquasport SPF 30 and Badger Unscented SPF 34 were ranked as having Poor protection against UVB rays. When it comes to UVA protection, All Terain Aquasport was ranked as just Fair. As a reminder, SPF measures UVB protection. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays and cause skin damage and skin aging. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer.
Consumer Reports Recommendation
Consumer Reports recommends using a product that offers broad spectrum protection, has a claimed SPF of at least 40 and is water resistant. In addition, it recommends to limit time in the sun, reapply sunscreen every two hours while outdoors, and wear protective clothing such as a hat and sunglasses.
In general, Central Skin values the recommendations of professional medical associations such as the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). However, since the Consumer Reports recommendations so closely mirror the AAD recommendations (see the "What SPF should you use?" section), we urge our readers to follow either recommendations to stay sun safe!