Advertising campaigns often lead consumers to believe that, in order to get the best sun protection available, you will have to buy the most expensive sunscreen. Even when purchasing a cheap sunscreen, like a generic bottle of SPF (sun protection factor) 30 the price approaches $10, leaving many individuals to wonder whether they can even afford proper sun protection.
Fortunately, a recent study conducted by Consumer Reports indicates that cheaper sunscreens are not only more affordable, but in many cases more effective than their pricier counterparts as well. The Consumer Reports study included, and tested, 22 different sunscreens for their effectiveness at blocking both UV-A (the portion of the sun’s rays that can cause skin cancer and are linked to aging) and UV-B rays (the portion of the sun’s rays that cause the actual sunburn).
Choosing the Sunscreen that Best Fits Your Needs
Consumer Reports gave its “best buy” award to Sport Continuous SPF 30 from Up & Up, one of retail giant Target’s house brands. The highly effective sunscreen costs only $0.88/ounce.
Other products that delivered excellent UV-A and UV-B protection for an affordable price included CVS Fast Cover Sport, Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof and Banana Boat Sport Performance, all of which are SPF 30.
One of the most striking comparisons pitted No-Ad with Aloe and Vitamin E SPF 45 against La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 40. Despite the fact that the products cost $0.59/ounce and $18.82/ounce, respectively, the No-Ad offering outperformed the more expensive lotion in every category.
Poor Water Resistance
Many people opt to get their sun exposure at the beach, so Consumer Reports tested the sunscreens for their resistance to water as well. Three of the more expensive sunscreens, including Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist, All Terrain AquaSports Performance and Badger SPF 30, held up poorly in this area. Both the All Terrain and Neutrogena products also had lower actual SPFs than what their labeling claimed.
Overall, experts said that virtually any cheap sunscreen with a relatively high SPF (i.e. at least 30, 45 or higher depending on your tendency to burn) should do the trick, regardless of its price, so long as you reapply as directed and make an effort to get in the shade from time to time.
Once you narrow down your sunscreen search to a few items that will fit your budget, your decision may ultimately be based on the product’s smell, as well as its texture during and after application.
After all, you’ll be far less likely to regularly apply a sunscreen with a foul odor, an “icky” feeling on your skin or an odd, discolored appearance. Experts agree that you won’t have to pay a premium to satisfy these requirements while still getting an effective, waterproof and cheap sunscreen.