With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner and other summer holidays and outdoor activities fast approaching, it's time to stock up on sunscreen. To help you choose the best lotion or spray, Consumer Reports puts dozens of them to the test.
Consumer Reports tests 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.
As part of Consumer Reports' testing, sunscreen is applied to subjects' backs-yes, they agree to this!-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. And the next day, trained experts examine the area for redness.
A top performer that's also a Consumer Reports Best Buy is Equate (Walmart) Ultra Lotion SPF 50.
Consumer Reports also enlists panelists to test sunscreens for scent, feel, and appearance. The tests show several sunscreens that absorb quickly into skin and leave little to no residue on people of a variety of skin tones.
Alba Botanica Hawaiian Coconut Clear Spray SPF 50 gets kudos from the majority of panelists and also tests well in Consumer Reports' overall ratings.
And after numerous recalls of some aerosol sunscreens because of contamination with the chemical benzene, Consumer Reports looked for benzene in all the aerosol sunscreens it tested. The good news is that all the products tested for benzene came back negative.
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To find out if you have a recalled sunscreen spray, go to Consumer Reports.org/benzene. If you have one, throw it away!
Consumer Reports also recommends that parents choose lotion sunscreens for kids and use sprays only as a last resort, because kids may inhale the spray, which could cause lung irritation.