Consumer Reports: Sunscreen buying guide

According to the American Cancer Society, more than one million skin cancers diagnosed each year in the U.S. are considered sun-related. That means it's important to have a good sunscreen. Consumer Reports tested 18 sunscreens, mostly sprays and lotions, from names like Aveeno, Banana Boat, Coppertone, and Neutrogena.

Consumer Reports tests to see how well the sunscreens protect against two types of radiation: UVB, which causes sunburn, and UVA, which penetrates deeper, resulting in tanning and aging of the skin. Both types contribute to skin cancer, so it's important to use a sunscreen that protects against both.

To test, Consumer Reports applies sunscreen to panelists' backs, then exposes them to either UVA or UVB rays. Testers also check water resistance. Panelists sit in water for up to 80 minutes depending on the product's claims.

Consumer Reports also performed a new critical wavelength test mandated by the FDA that determines whether the sunscreen offers a sufficient level of UVA protection. Two products that claim both UVA and UVB protection failed this test: Banana Boat Kids and Alba Botanica.

But for fun in the sun without the worry, Consumer Reports did find two very good, inexpensive sunscreens:
No-Ad SPF 45, Walgreen's Continuous Spray Sunscreen Sport SPF 50.

Both rated very good against UVA and excellent against UVB radiation, making them great options for your next day at the beach.

The FDA is currently investigating spray-on sunscreens and whether inhaling the spray poses a danger. Until more is known, Consumer Reports says it's best to avoid using sprays on children. And never spray directly onto your face. Instead spray into your hands and rub the sunscreen onto your face.

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