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Which sunscreen protects you best? We put them to the test!

Consumer Reports tested more than 80 sunscreen products

The US Food and Drug Administration is proposing new regulations on over-the-counter sunscreens in an effort to keep up with the latest scientific and safety information.
The US Food and Drug Administration is proposing new regulations on over-the-counter sunscreens in an effort to keep up with the latest scientific and safety information. (Shutterstock via CNN)

It's no secret sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer and other skin damage. But with so many sunscreens, how do you know which one is right for your family? 

Consumer Reports rated a whopping 82 lotions, sprays, sticks, and lip balms and cut through all the jargon on the labels to help find the best sunscreen. Dermatologists always say that the best sunscreen is the one you'll actually use. But as Consumer Reports' tests show, some are much better at protecting your skin than others. 
Consumer Reports tested them out, applying sunscreen to test subject’s backs, who then soaked in a tub for 40 or 80-minutes, depending on the product's water-resistance claim. 

After being exposed to simulated sunlight, the experts weighed in a day later.
Two of Consumer Report's top best buy sunscreens are, Equate Walmart Ultra protection lotion SPF 50 and Trader Joe's spray SPF 50-plus. 

Recently, the FDA asked sunscreen manufacturers to provide more safety information on 12 common sunscreen chemical active ingredients, including oxybenzone.

Consumer Reports health editor Trisha Calvo said that ingredient is the most concerning.

"The concern with oxybenzone, is that there is evidence that it is absorbed through the skin. Animal studies suggest that it may interfere with the function of hormones, including estrogen. But there hasn't been enough research yet to determine if it's harmful to people,” Calvo said.

Still, the American Academy of Pediatrics says parents may want to consider using an oxybenzone-free sunscreen on their children. If you're looking for a sunscreen containing no chemicals, you may be thinking of trying a mineral or natural sunscreen. 

Sue Booth, Consumer Reports testing engineer said shop carefully.

"In our sunscreen tests in recent years, we haven't found a mineral sunscreen that provides both top-notch protection and meets its labeled SPF," Booth said.

What tested best?

Although California Kids Sensitive Lotion SPF 30-Plus and Badger Active Natural Mineral Cream SPF 30 - Unscented, were not at the top of CR's ratings, they were the highest scoring mineral sunscreens and will provide some protection.
 


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