Consumer Reports on the Best Sun Protection Products
Consumer Reports (CR) has compiled a list of which sunscreens work best and why, and which are most likely to leave you in the lurch when you need them. CR also found that sometimes, a sunscreen claims it has a high level of protection from the sun – say, SPF 50 for example – but in reality, it offers much less coverage and leaves your skin under protected.
As we’ve blogged about in the past, your skin needs to be protected from both UVA and UVB rays, though UVB rays are the most common culprits behind skin cancer. The strength of UVB rays go up and down throughout a day, so sunscreen needs to get put on every two hours. And experts say that regardless of skin tone or color, everyone needs to use sunscreen.
UVA and UVB rays are both dangerous. UVA rays are always around, even on a cloudy day. They can cause sagging, wrinkling, broken blood vessels and sometimes cause skin damage that triggers cancerous growth. UVB rays penetrate less deeply into the skin and usually affect the outermost, superficial layer. Even though they penetrate less deeply, UVB rays can be very dangerous and are the most likely to cause skin cancer and growths.
Since sunscreen is very important and absolutely everyone needs to use it to protect themselves from burning and skin cancer, CR tested 60 different types of sunscreens that are popular on the market. The results were shocking: 23 sunscreens protected less than half the amount they claimed they could. That means that nearly half of the products tested provided less coverage than they said. Even by reading the label and product packaging, it is impossible for consumers to tell what level of sun protection they are getting with far too many of the sun care products on the market.
Some say that this major discrepancy may be the result of a lack of government regulation and monitoring. The company that makes a sunscreen determines the strength it will be marked at for labeling. The manufacturer also picks a laboratory to test its product.
Why doesn’t the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees thousands of medications and foods, regulate sunscreen? They are supposed to, but FDA officials have said that there are simply too few employees to investigate the large number of products that we have. As a consequence, sunscreen seems to slip through the cracks, making its way onto the shelves without proper verification.
Not every single brand of sunscreen that CR tested came out subpar. While many of the products tested were unreliable, CR found that Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70+ tested well and appeared to provide coverage of SPF 49. Since most dermatologists recommend using at least SPF 30, this is in an acceptable range. Scientists at the Personal Care Products Council, which also conducts tests on sunscreen, supported the CR’s findings.
It is very important to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays with sunscreen. Over 87,000 people were diagnosed with invasive forms of melanoma, a dangerous and potentially deadly skin cancer, in 2017 alone. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 9,000 die every year from the disease. To help consumers know which products will help protect them the best, the CR compiled its findings. You can view the CR’s sunscreen ratings here.
Please remember to protect you skin and use sunscreen responsibly!
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