Consumer Reports top rated sunscreens to protect you this summer

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The sizzling temperatures have all of us looking toward the summer season and more sun exposure means more sunscreen.

Consumer Reports has finished its newest testing and reveals some sunscreens are much better than others at protecting your skin.

SPF stands for "sun protection factor" and it is a measure of how well a sunscreen protects against sunburn.

To test SPF, Consumer Reports applied lotion and sprays to the backs of test subjects, who then 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. And the next day, trained experts examine it for redness.

CR's top lotion is Equate Walmart Sport Lotion SPF 50 and the top spray is Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Spray SPF 30.

Which one is better is really just personal preference. What really matters is how you apply it.

"If you are using a lotion, you'll need to use about a teaspoon per body part or area that's not covered up with clothing," said Trisha Calvo of Consumer Reports.

You need to be extra careful when using a spray, because it can be harder to judge whether you are completely covering your skin.

"The proper way to use a spray is to hold the nozzle about 4 to 6 inches from your skin and spray until your skin glistens, then rub it in. Smoothing it into the skin increases its protection. Then repeat, just to be safe," she said.

Also, never spray your face. Instead spray the sunscreen into your hands and rub it onto your face.

CR also recommends extra care when using a spray on children, because they are more likely to inhale the mist.

All top-rated sunscreens from Consumer Reports contain chemical active ingredients. If you prefer a mineral or natural sunscreen, CR's tests found California Kids Super Sensitive Tinted Lotion SPF 30+ provided acceptable protection.
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