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Sunscreens tested for UVA, UVB protection

May 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
According to the American Cancer Society, more than one million skin cancers diagnosed each year in the U.S. are considered sun related. That means it's important to find a sunscreen that will protect you and your family, but which one is best?

Consumer Reports tested 18 sunscreens, mostly sprays and lotions from names like Banana Boat, Coppertone, Neutrogena and Aveeno.

"We test to see how well the sunscreens protect against two types of radiation: UVB, which causes sunburn, and UVA, which penetrates deeper, resulting in tanning and aging of the skin," said Nicole Sarrubbo with Consumer Reports.

Both types contribute to skin cancer, so it's important to use a sunscreen that protects against both. To test, Consumer Reports applied sunscreen to panelists' backs, then exposed them to either UVA or UVB rays.

Testers also checked water resistance. Panelists sat in water for up to 80 minutes, depending on the product's claims.

"We also performed a new critical wavelength test mandated by the FDA that determines if the sunscreen offers a sufficient level of UVA protection," Sarrubbo said.

Two products that claim both UVA and UVB protection failed this test: Banana Boat Kids and Alba Botanica. But for fun in the sun without the worry, Consumer Reports found two very good, inexpensive sunscreens: No-Ad SPF 45 and Walgreen's Continuous Spray Sunscreen Sport SPF 50.

Both rated very good against UVA and excellent against UVB radiation, making them great options for your next day at the beach.

The FDA is currently investigating spray-on sunscreens and whether inhaling the spray poses a danger. Until more is known, Consumer Reports says it's best to avoid using sprays on children and never spray directly onto your face. Instead, spray into your hands and rub the sunscreen onto your face.


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