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Consumer Reports: Top tested sunscreens

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Posted at 6:37 AM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 07:37:40-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/CONSUMER REPORTS) — With the warmer weather here, many will be spending a lot more time outside. But before you head out, don't forget a crucial sun protection product — sunscreen.

Whether you're going to the pool, to the lake or just sunning in your backyard, you definitely need sunscreen.

Dermatologists say the best sunscreen is the one you’ll actually use. And while that may be true, it didn’t stop Consumer Reports from putting a variety of different sunscreens from different brands and price points to the test.

“We test sunscreens to see how well they protect against two types of UV rays: UVA, which causes aging and skin cancer, and UVB, which causes sunburn,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Trisha Calvo.

As part of CR’s testing, sunscreen was applied to subjects’ backs. Then, they soaked 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.

A top performer that’s also a CR best buy: Equate Ultra Lotion SPF 50.

CR also enlisted panelists to test sunscreens for scent, feel and appearance.

“In our tests, we found several sunscreens that absorb quickly into skin, and leave little to no residue on people of a variety of skin tones,” Calvo said.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Coconut Clear Spray SPF 50 got kudos from the majority of panelists and also tested well in CR’s overall ratings.

And after numerous recalls of some aerosol sunscreens because of contamination with the chemical benzene, CR looked for benzene in all of the aerosol sunscreens it tested.

“The good news is that all the products we tested for benzene came back negative,” said Calvo.

You can check if you have a recalled sunscreen spray at the CR website. And if you have one — throw it away!

Sprays are a whole lot easier, but if you've got kids, look for lotion sunscreens for them, and only use sprays as a last resort because kids — especially younger ones — can inhale the spray, which can then get in and irritate their lungs.