If you think all sunscreens are created equal, think again.
Consumer Reports has released its annual list of top sunscreens as well as a warning about the SPF number on some bottles: If you put too much faith in them, you could be putting your skin at risk.
SPF, which stands for sun protection factor, measures how well a sunscreen guards against ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, the chief cause of sunburn and a contributor to skin cancer.
For the fifth year in a row, Consumer Reports found some sunscreens during testing failed to provide the level of protection promised on the package. In fact, of the more than 60 products tested, 23 were found to have less than half of the labeled SPF number.
The Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to have their products tested to determine the SPF because sunscreens are classified as over-the-counter drugs. However, the agency doesn’t routinely test sunscreens itself and manufacturers don’t have to report their results to the FDA unless the agency requests them.
According to Consumer Reports, an FDA official at a public meeting in June 2016 said the agency only had the resources for 30 employees to cover more than 100,000 over-the-counter drugs, which limits what they can do to oversee sunscreens.
"Manufacturers test sunscreens for SPF before their products hit the market, but unless they are reformulated, that may be the only testing they do. That’s one reason CR tests sunscreens," Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports Health Editor, said.
The agency found a number of sunscreens that provide solid protection against sunburn, skin cancer and wrinkles and are also a good value.
Below are 14 recommended sunscreens that received excellent overall ratings:
- LA ROCHE-POSAY - Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk, $36
- EQUATE (Walmart)- Sport Lotion SPF 50, $5
- PURE - Sun Defense Disney Frozen Lotion, SPF 50, $6
- COPPERTONE - WaterBabies Lotion, SPF 50, $12
- EQUATE (Walmart)- Ultra Protection Lotion, SPF 50, $8
- OCEAN POTION - Protect and Nourish, SPF 30, $8
- AVEENO - Protect and Hydrate lotion, SPF 30, $8
- UP and UP (Target)- Sheer Dry-Touch Lotion, SPF 30, $5
- COPPERTONE - Clearly Sheer Lotion, SPF 50, $7
- NEUTROGENA - CoolDry Sport Lotion, SPF 30, $9.50
- NEUTROGENA - Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Lotion, SPF 45, $9.50
- HAWAIIAN TROPIC - Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance Lotion, SPF 50, $10.50
- WELL AT WALGREENS - Baby Lotion, SPF 50, $3
- COPPERTONE - Sport High Performance Lotion, SPF 50, $12