“We buy the sunscreens for our tests off the shelf, the way consumers would,” said Susan Booth, the project leader for sunscreen testing. “We use three samples, preferably with different lot numbers, of each product.” All the products were tested for SPF and UVA protection.
To check SPF, a standard amount of sunscreen was applied to a 2x3-inch spot on panelists’ backs. After the participants soaked in water, smaller sections of the sunscreen area were exposed to five to six intensities of UV light from a sun simulator. The resulting SPF ratings — excellent to poor — reflected each product’s effectiveness after water immersion and were based on an average of Consumer Reports’results for each sunscreen. A score for variation from SPF — which measured how closely a sunscreen’s tested SPF matched the SPF on the label — was also assigned.
“To test for UVA protection, we smear sunscreen on plastic plates, pass UV light through, and measure the amount of UVA and UVB rays that are absorbed. That information is used to calculate our UVA score,” Consumer Reports wrote.
So, which sunscreens rated high enough to be recommended?
Consumer Reports recommended Equate (Walmart) Sport SPF 50, which is only $4 for an 8 ounce bottle.
The two sprays on the recommended list were Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Spray SPF 30 ($9 on Amazon.com) and Alba Botanica Hawaiian Coconut Clear Spray SPF 50 ($10 on Amazon.com).
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