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Some Sunscreens Don't Protect As Well As Advertised

The sunscreen industry has gone through a large overhaul recently. Broad spectrum sunscreens, that is ones that protect against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiations, must be labeled as such, and sunscreens that do not protect against both must be noted, with a warning label on the bottle. These changes and more have been in effect since the FDA put out new guidelines in 2011; however, a recent study by Consumer Reports has found that sunscreens may not be being honest about the SPF the companies put on bottles.

Interestingly, it isn’t necessarily the cheapo sunscreens that are fooling consumers. While a couple of Target Brand and Walmart brand sunscreens tested high, some of the more expensive brands of sunscreen, including Badger Unscented SPF 34 lotion and All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30, failed to adequately protect consumers from UV rays. The Badger Unscented SPF 34 and the All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30 cost consumers $5.52 and $4.33, respectively.

There is good news for sunscreen buyers, as well. The Consumer Reports testers looked at a dozen of broad spectrum sunscreens and found several brands that offered better than expected protection, including Up & Up (Target) Sport SPF 50 spray and Equate (Walmart) Ultra Protection SPF 50 lotion, which topped the charts by offering protection after 80 minutes of sun and water play, as well as from UV rays. Additionally, if you are a user of Coppertone Water Babies 50 lotion or Walgreens Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50, you should be good to go.

While 12 sunscreens are not a ton to test and there are certainly other good names out on the market, it’s still interesting to see what sort of brands did well and what fell short. I bet you weren’t guessing that the Walmart product did the best when you started reading this article. The 12 sunscreens were tested for the summer of 2013 and the July issue of Consumer Reports. With that information and an avoidance of dangerous behaviors, you can have plenty of fun this summer without putting yourself at risk.

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Image Credit: Kate Ignatenko / Shutterstock

Jessica Rawden
Jessica Rawden

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.