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Consumer Reports: The best sunscreens for skin protection

May 23, 2019

Consumer Reports rated 82 lotions, sprays, sticks and lip balms to find the sunscreens that work best.

The two top-rated sunscreens include Equate Walmart Ultra Protection Lotion SPF 50 and Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50-plus.

One thing to be aware of, though, is chemicals. Recently, the FDA asked sunscreen manufacturers to provide more safety information on 12 common sunscreen chemicals -- including oxybenzone, which is potentially the most concerning.

“Evidence in animal studies show that it may interfere with the function of hormones, such as estrogen,” said Trisha Calvo, a health editor with Consumer Reports. “However, more research is needed before we know what the effects are in people.”

Despite the lack of research, the American Academy of Pediatrics says parents may want to consider using an oxybenzone-free sunscreen on their children.

Consumer Reports cautions that, while looking for a sunscreen without any chemicals, shop carefully.

“In our sunscreen tests in recent years, we haven’t found a mineral sunscreen that provides both top-notch protection and meets its labeled SPF,” said Sue Booth, a testing engineer at Consumer Reports.

The highest-scoring unscented, mineral sunscreens that still provided sun protection were California Kids Sensitive Lotion SPF 30-Plus and Badger Active Natural Mineral Cream SPF 30.

The rule of thumb with sunscreen is to apply a teaspoon per body part or area -- so one teaspoon for your face, head and neck, one for each arm, one for each leg, etc.

If you use spray, rub it in, experts say, and don’t inhale the fumes. When using spray sunscreens on the face, or on children, spray it in your hands first and then apply it.

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