Sunscreen Picks From Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports released the findings of a large research project looking into the effectiveness of various sunscreen options.

They tested 60 different sunscreen lotions, sprays and sticks.  Here’s what they found.

  • 43 percent of the sunscreens and all of the lip balms fell short of the SPF claim on their labels
  • “Natural” or mineral sunscreens—those that contain only titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or both as active ingredients— tend to perform less well than those that have chemical active ingredients
  • None of the mineral based sunscreen options made their recommendation list this year
  • Use spray sunscreen carefully. The FDA is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreen. Until we know more, their experts say to avoid using sprays on children, and do not spray them directly on your face.
  • There is no difference between kids and adult sunscreen.  Buy one bottle and use it on everyone.

So which sunscreen received the approval from Consumer Reports?


  • LaRoche-Posay Anthelion 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk
  • Pure Sun Defense Disney Frozen SPF 50
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50
  • Equate (Walmart) Ultra Protection SPF 50
  • Ocean Potion Protect and Nourish SPF 30
  • Aveeno Protect + Hydrate SPF 30

Best Buy = Equate (Walmart) Ultra Protection SPF 50 at $0.79 per ounce it is the exact same formula as the Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50.


If you still insist on using a spray, then buy Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+.  It is the highest ranked spray and affordable at $1.00 an ounce.


  • Coppertone Kid Stick SPF 55
  • Up & Up Target Kid Stick SPF 55

These products have the exact same formula and effectiveness.  Coppertone stick costs $9 a stick.  The Target generic costs around $5.50 a stick.  Go with the Target stick.

Place a stick of sunscreen in your child’s backpack so they can apply before recess.

My biggest disappointments:

  • That none of the mineral or “natural” products could meet their claims for SPF ratings
  • Neutrogena Face sunscreen tested really poorly
  • CeraVa face lotion claims a SPF 30 but tested as a SPF15
  • As brands, Neutrogena and Banana Boat continuously missed their SPF ratings, sometimes by more than half.

If you have a consumer reports account you can access the full study and findings using this link.

Author: sunality

I am a mother of two and survivor of a very scary malignant melanoma diagnosis. I was diagnosed in my early thirties. Since that day, I have been working to change my lifestyle and incorporate sun blocking effective products into my daily life to create a new reality of living in the sun... my "sunality." I want to pass along this information to others who are facing the same lifestyle changes and challenges. You can still live a normal life and protect yourself from the deadly effects of the sun.

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