Getting the best sunscreen protection
Most people know that sunscreen is important when heading outdoors, but nearly a third say they never use it -- even when they're in the sun for more than four hours. New sunscreens are easy to apply at a price no one should pass up.
The suns ultraviolet rays can damage skin and contribute to skin cancer unless you are properly protected. Consumer Reports just tested ten sunscreens. Most promise to guard against both UVA and UVB rays. Testers applied sunscreen to people's skin at an independent lab. After waiting at least 15 minutes, they exposed the skin to UVB radiation or UVA. All the sunscreens offered good to excellent UVB protection. That's known as the SPF.
"The SPF or sun protection factor tells you how much sun you can handle before burning, compared to wearing no sunscreen at all. We recommend an SPF of at least 30," explains Jamie Kopf Hirsh of Consumer Reports.
But after sitting in water, nearly all the sunscreens lost a little UVB protection.
"You want to remember to reapply sunscreen after you swim or work up a sweat - and as a general rule every two hours," recommends Jamie.
When it came to UVA rays, tests showed one of the lotions was just fair. It's Banana Boat Kids Tear Free, with an SPF of 50.
But another lotion also marketed for kids did well - Coppertone's Water Babies. And adults can use it too.
Among sprays, Consumer Reports gave top ratings to the Aveno 45 SPF.
It's very good for UVA protection, excellent for UVB even after being in water.
The Coppertone Sport is less expensive and a 30 SPF giving excellent UVB protection -- good UVA--and it's almost as good as the Aveno after being in water.
And whether you spray sunscreen on or rub it in, use a generous amount.
A word about skin cancer - don't rely on sunscreen alone for protection. Take other precautions like wearing a hat and tightly woven clothing. And remember the best protection: stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day.