Consumer Reports Releases Sunscreen Ratings

Periodically, Consumer Reports aggressively reviews and tests sunscreens for effectiveness. Last month they posted their 2019 ratings.

The report was divided into creams and lotions versus sprays.   To test each sunscreen, they applied it to human skin then soaked the skin in water to duplicate the effects of swimming and sweat. They then exposed the volunteers to sunlight.  To cover the skin adequately they used about a shot glass worth of sunscreen on bodies wearing a bathing suit. They said this approximated using one teaspoon per body part area such as one teaspoon for your face, one teaspoon for your head and neck, one teaspoon for each arm and leg etc.

Their top-rated lotion was La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt In Sunscreen giving it a rating of 100.  A tube costs $36.  The next highest rated was BullFrog Land Sort Quik Gel SPF 50.  It was given a rating of 95 and only costs $13 for a bottle.

Consumer Reports also rated spray sunscreens. To properly apply the spray they suggested holding the nozzle close to the skin and then spraying until the skin glistens. At that point they advise rubbing it in even if the product is advertised as a “no rub“ product.  Once this is done, they suggest repeating the process. They emphasize to never spray directly into the face or eyes. They suggest trying to refrain from inhaling the spray which is why spray sunscreen is not recommended for children.  Their favorite spray choice is Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+.  It gets a rating of 100 and sells for $6.  They describe it as having a beach aroma in a combination of floral and citrus scents.   Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMIst Spray SPF 50+ received a score of 96 and is priced at $13.

This past year research has shown that several sunscreen ingredients including oxybenzone are absorbed and achieve blood serum levels at much higher numbers than anticipated.  Oxybenzone is now forbidden in sunscreens used in the state of Hawaii because small amounts of bleach which can kill their coral reefs. There are now sunscreens without Oxybenzone.  Walgreens Hydrating Lotion SPF 50 achieved a score of 74 and has none of the offending ingredient.  It sells for $3. Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance Lotion SPF 50 achieved a score of 70 and cost only $8.

Mineral or barrier sunscreens composed of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are known to be safe in major studies.  Consumer Reports believes these products do not provide as much protection as the products containing oxybenzone and similar active absorbable chemical.  “Some provide adequate SPF protection but not enough UVA protection and vice versa.”  The mineral sunscreens that performed admirably in their tests include California Kids # Supersensitive Lotion SPF 30+ for $20 and BadgerActive Natural Mineral Cream SPF 30 for $16.