It's a burning question every summer — which sunscreen should you choose?
With Memorial Day almost here, Consumer Reports offers some answers, saying that its tests of 12 sprays, lotions, a cream and a pump spray found that four sunscreens "outshine the rest" at providing the best protection.
The four that ranked tops — all of them sprays — are Up & Up Sport Continuous (Target); Walgreens Sport Continuous; Banana Boat Sport Performance Continuous and Aveeno Continuous Protection.
All four tied in their overall score. Consumer Reports ranked those with the same scores by cost per ounce.
CR emphasized that "sunscreens that guard against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation can help prevent sunburn, wrinkles, and certain skin cancers."
Its tests looked at "how well each product blocked UVA and UVB rays and how well their claimed sun-protection factor, or SPF — a measure of UVB protection — lasted on volunteers who soaked in water for 40 or 80 minutes." There are no protection factors for UVA radiation on labels, CR said.
The top four each "provided very good UVA protection and excellent UVB protection, and met their SPF claim even after treated skin was in water for 80 minutes," CR said.
Sometimes the smell and feel of sunscreens are a turn-off, but the top four only "had a slight or moderately intense floral or citrus scent and left little residue on skin," it said.
That compared to 12th-ranked Burt's Bees Chemical-Free with Hemp Seed Oil, a lotion with an SPF of 30, which cost $4.00 per ounce and which CR's testers found had a "strong scent of plastic... and Play-Doh."
CR also said that the active ingredient in Burt's Bees is titanium dioxide, which "doesn't absorb the entire UVA spectrum as effectively as alternatives like avobenzone."
Cost was also factored in.
Tenth-ranked La Roche-Posay Anthelios 40 with Mexoryl SX costs a "nervy" $18.82 per ounce, CR said, noting that LaRoche-Posay does not claim water resistance.
Coppertone Water Babies, a lotion with an SPF of 50 and a price tag of $1.38 per ounce ranked fifth, scoring a "very good" rather than an "excellent" on how well it lasted in water.