Inexpensive sunscreens top Consumer Reports annual tests

Sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer and other skin damage.

But with so many on the market, how do you know which one's right for your family?

Consumer Reports tested 82 lotions, sprays, sticks, and lip balms, and has just released this year's ratings for the top sunscreens.

Their report cuts through all the marketing jargon on the labels to pick the best options.

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.

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To test the products, sunscreen is applied to volunteers' backs.

Then they soak in a tub for 40 or 80-minutes, depending on the product's water-resistance claim.

The area is then exposed to simulated sunlight.

The next day, trained experts examine the area for redness.

Two of the top 'best buy' sunscreens are, Equate Walmart Ultra Protection Lotion S-P-F 50 and Trader Joe's Spray S-P-F 50-plus.

Recently, the FDA asked sunscreen manufacturers to provide additional safety information on 12 common sunscreen chemical active ingredients, including oxybenzone, which is potentially 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," says Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

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. But, 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," says Sue Booth, Consumer Reports Testing Engineer.

Although California Kids Sensitive Lotion S-P-F 30-Plus and Badger Active Natural Mineral Cream S-P-F 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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