Consumer Reports tests twenty water resistant sunscreens to find out if they protect your skin

Two sunscreens provide inadequate protection

TAMPA - Consumer Reports tested twenty sprays and lotions that claim to be water resistant and provide "broad spectrum" protection to see if they work.

Broad spectrum means the sunscreens should protect against both UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays. UVA rays are linked to skin aging. UVB rays cause sunburns. Both can contribute to the development of skin cancers.

In the test Consumer Reports applied the sprays and lotions to panelists' backs. The volunteers then soaked in a tub for 80 minutes before being exposed to either UVA or UVB rays.

Their backs were examined twenty-four hours later to determine how well the sunscreens worked.

Eighteen of the 20 sunscreens tested did not provide the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) they promise on their packages. However, sixteen of the eighteen did provide adequate protection from the damaging ultraviolet rays.

"We can't say why our test results differ from the manufacturers'," said Jamie Kopf of Consumer Reports. "In some cases we found the SPF was off by just a little. But two sunscreens were off by much more."

Consumer Reports found Beyond Coastal Natural, which claimed an SPF of 30, it provided a SPF below 15 in the water test.

More worrisome is Banana Boat Kids sunscreen, which is marketed for children. While it claimed a SPF of 50, it also provided a SPF below 15.

The bathtub tests also found several of the sunscreens are less effective than others at protecting against UVA rays.

Consumer Reports is recommending several sunscreens as "Best Buys": Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 from Walmart and the spray Up & Up Sport SPF 50 from Target. Both retail for less than ten dollars.

Two other sunscreen lotions are also recommended: Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50, and Neutrogena Ultimate Sport SPF 70+.

There are three other spray-on sunscreens Consumer Reports recommends: BullFrog Water Armor Sport InstaCool SPF 50+, Banana Boat Ultra Defense Max Skin Protect SPF 110 and Walgreen's store-brand sunscreen called Well at Walgreens Sport SPF 50.

You can get more information on Consumer Reports' sunscreen tests on their website, www.consumerreports.org .

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