By now, most of us know how important it is to lather on sunscreen before heading out to enjoy some fun in the sun. Between the reports about the sun’s impact on our skin and its potential to cause cancer, people have definitely become better at applying the stuff over the last few years.
But as it turns out, not all sunscreens are the same, and what you’re paying for may not actually be what you’re getting. At least that’s the word from Consumer Reports. With summer coming up, the company tested more than 60 bottles of sunscreen lotions, sprays, sticks and lip balms. Sadly, of those, they found that 23 of the products tested contained less than half of their labelled SPF rating.
That’s scary stuff when you’ve only invested in a bottle of SPF 30, thinking you were doing enough to protect yourself.
According to the company, they’ve actually seen similar results in their testing over the past five years, meaning that things haven’t exactly changed. The report notes that historically, they’ve found that products containing “natural” or mineral products (titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or both as active ingredients) have tended to contain less SPF than promised. Meanwhile, bottles with chemical ingredients like avobenzone have performed pretty well in testing.
Although it’s easy to feel jaded after hearing something like this, here’s the good news: in its report, the company also made recommendations about which sunscreens stood up to the test, and there are some inexpensive brands out there that will definitely deliver this summer. Notably the Equate line from Walmart is a top choice if you go with any of the following: Equate Sport Lotion SPF 50, Equate Ultra Protection Lotion SPF 50 or Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 50.
Of course, it’s also important to know how to property apply sunscreen if you’re taking the time to lather up (and with what we know about skin cancer these days, why wouldn’t you?).
Consumer Reports recommends shaking the bottle first, to make sure that all of the active ingredients are evenly dispersed. Apply the product roughly 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside, and be sure to use a teaspoon of lotion per body part or area to make sure you’re getting enough. If you’re using a spray, use just enough to be rubbed in and then repeat. Above all, be sure to reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
Phew. Now that we got that out of the way, we can stop sweating the sunscreen and actually go out and enjoy the sun.