Sunscreen protection doesn't have to cost a lot

Consumer Reports picks best sunscreen brands

By Tony Statz - Producer

Summer is almost here and that means thinking about protecting yourself from the sun's harmful rays.

Many of you might think more money means a better product.

"Generally, I think that the more expensive brands give you better protection," said Don Papke, of Franklin, as he shopped in the skin care
aisle at Meijer.

Consumer Reports found that the less-expensive brands can offer great protection for less money. The consumer magazine gave high marks to
some store brands, which is says retail for around $1.67 an ounce or less.

Consumer Reports liked the following:

*Target's Up & Up Sport SPF 50
*Walmart's Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50
*Walgreens Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50
*Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50

It found they all guarded against UVB rays before and after 80 minutes under water and were very food against UVA rays. With new labeling requirements all products should offer protection against both, called broad spectrum protection.

"UVA is what causes the skin cancer. UVB is what burns the skin. So, you want to make sure that the sunscreen protects you against both of these damaging rays," said dermatologist Steve Grekin.

More Expensive Not Necessarily Better

Consumer Reports also found some of the more expensive brands it analyzed were the least effective. Badger Unscented SPF 34 and All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30 were both rated poor at guarding against UVB rays. These sunscreens cost $5.22 and $4.33 per ounce respectively, over two dollars more than the store brands.

"The cheaper brands are probably made in the same factory as the better brands," said Dr. Steve Grekin.

New FDA Rules

New rules from the Food and Drug Administration have gone info effect just in time for summer, with the goal of eliminating some consumer confusion.
In addition to having broad spectrum on the label, other words have been removed. Manufacturers can no longer use the word sunblock, as its impossible to prove any product can block 100 percent of the sun's rays.

The word "waterproof" is also gone, replaced with the term water-resistant. Again, the term "waterproof" was found to be largely misleading. The labels are also required to offer a set time for reapplication. That's advice Dr. Grekin has been giving for years.

"If you you jump into a pool, I don't care what the stuff is made of its going to wash off," he said.

Sunscreens without an SPF protection of 15 or higher must also carry a Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert. This warns that spending time in the sun increases your chances skin cancer and early skin aging.

However, double the SPF rating doesn't necessarily mean double the protection. According to Dr. Grekin, "Studies show that the SPF of 50 protects you 97 percent. The SPF of 100 only protects you 98.5 percent."

His rule of thumb is to use a sunscreen with an SPF 50, reapply often, and make sure you're using enough sunscreen.

"Everyone likes to squirt out a little bit and rub it all over. It's not enough, you need a shot glass, a two-ounce shot glass full of sunscreen to protect your body," warned Dr. Steve Grekin.

To read more about the Consumer Reports study follow this link.

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