The News4JAX Morning Show team is helping you get Beach Ready and one major part of that is picking a sunscreen that will protect your skin -- as well as your wallet. But with so many choices, how do you know which one to choose?
Consumer Reports tests dozens of varieties each year to reveal the best options.
“We test sunscreens to see how well they protect against two types of the sun’s rays -- UVA and UVB, which cause aging, skin cancer, and sunburn,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Trisha Calvo.
To test for SPF -- the “sun protection factor” and a measure of how well a sunscreen protects against UVB rays -- expert testers apply sunscreen onto panelists’ backs before they soak in a tub for 40 or 80 minutes, depending on the sunscreen’s water-resistance claim. The area is then exposed to simulated sunlight. The next day, trained experts examine the area for redness.
To test for protection against UVA rays, testers apply sunscreen on plastic plates, expose them to UV light, then measure the amount of rays that are absorbed. Watch below to see how Consumer reports tests sunscreen.
A top-performing sunscreen with a perfect score that’s also a “Consumer Reports Smart Buy” is Coppertone Water Babies Lotion SPF 50 for $15.75. But don’t let the name throw you off! Calvo says this sunscreen is not only for babies!
Other top-rated lotion sunscreens include Everyday Humans Oh My Bod! SPF 50 starting at $14.39 and then a more expensive one -- La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Lotion SPF 60, starting at $35.86.
“All of our top-rated sunscreens contain chemical active ingredients. In our tests over the years, we found that mineral sunscreens don’t protect as well,” said Calvo.
If you do prefer a mineral or natural sunscreen, Consumer Reports’ tests found California Kids Super Sensitive Tinted Lotion SPF 30+ for $25.99 provided acceptable protection.
CONSUMER REPORTS: Best Sunscreens of 2023
As important as the sunscreen you choose is how you apply it. For lotion, use a teaspoon per body part or area that’s not covered up with clothing.
If you’re using a spray, hold the nozzle about an inch from your skin and spray until your skin glistens, then rub it in. And for all types of sunscreens, reapply every two hours and after swimming.
Some of the best sunscreen sprays Consumer Reports tested include Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+ for $12.95 and Neutrogena Beach Defense Water+Sun Protection Spray SPF 50 starting at $9.58.
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Consumer Reports recommends parents choose lotion sunscreens for kids -- and only use sprays as a last resort -- because kids may inhale the spray, which could cause lung irritation.
Continuing Coverage of Beach Ready on The Morning Show
- Wednesday: We showed you what to pack in your beach bag -- including items you probably never thought you needed to bring to the beach.
- Thursday: Not all sun-protective clothing is created equal. The label that will reveal whether it’s actually protecting your skin. And if you need to cover your head for protection, the go-to hats that experts say you should avoid.
- Friday: You’ve been cleaning your bathing suit all wrong! We showed you how to get your suits clean -- so they last longer and don’t lose their shape!