CONSUMER REPORTS: The Best Sunscreens Aren't The Most Expensive Ones

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US, which means we should all be slathering on sun protection every day.

But a new rating in Consumer Report reveals that the more expensive sunscreens do not necessarily protect better than cheaper brands.

The publication reviewed 12 popular sunscreen products, looking at SPF accuracy, UVB and UVA protection, scent, and staining.

The researchers tested panelists in a lab with a sun stimulator, and used the Food and Drug Administration’s “critical wavelength” test to assess how well UV rays were absorbed by clear plastic plates treated with sunscreen. (Read more on the methodology here.)

All products passed the broad-spectrum test, but the cheaper brands from Target and Walmart actually fared the best overall. Target’s UP & UP Sport SPF 50 was the top-rated sunscreen with a score of 80 out of 100 ($6.94). Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 from Walmart ($7.50) had a score of 77, and Coppertone SPF 50 ($11) was right behind with a rating of 75.

Surprisingly, Badger Unscented SPF ($16) and All Terrain AquaSport ($13) — two of the most expensive brands — fared the worst with “poor” SPF ratings and Zinc Oxide as the only active ingredient.

Consumer Reports advises that if you can’t find a recommended sunscreen, buy one that has broad-spectrum protection, is water resistant, and has an SPF of at least 40 — higher than last year’s SPF 30 recommendation.

See their top six brands:

  1. UP & UP (Target), Sport SPF 50 ($6.94)
  2. Equate (Walmart), Ultra Protection SPF 50 ($7.50)
  3. Coppertone Water, Babies SPF 50 ($11)
  4. Walgreens Continuous Spray, Sport SPF 50 ($8)
  5. Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch, SPF 30 ($11)
  6. Coppertone Sport High Performance, SPF 30 ($10)

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