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Consumer Reports rates sunscreens. Did yours make the cut?

BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
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May 25, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Tisha Bennett of Brentwood sunbathes wearing a lower-SPF sunscreen.
Tisha Bennett of Brentwood sunbathes wearing a lower-SPF sunscreen. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

Does your sunscreen have what it takes to protect against the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays? Consumer Reports sized up 22 creams, sprays and lotions — just in time for beach-goers to start stocking up for summer.

The sunscreens were put into three categories (SPF 30, SPF 40-50, and SPF 50+). The report also noted cost per ounce and what form the sunscreen came in. The products were ranked according to how effectively they guarded against UVB rays — rays that cause sunburn — and UVA rays, which go deeper into the skin and cause tanning and aging. They also looked at how well that UV protection held up after the sunscreen was applied to volunteers’ backs and submerged in water for 80 minutes.

Surprisingly, it didn't seem to matter how expensive the sunscreen was, how high the SPF was (so long as it was above SPF 30) or what form it was in.

The magazine's testers found that nine of the 22 sunscreens surveyed provided excellent protection against UVB rays and very good protection against UVA rays. The top-scoring sunscreen, SPF 45 No-Ad with Aloe and Vitamin E, earned an overall 89 points out of 100 and was also the cheapest — just 59 cents an ounce. Compare that with SPF 40 La Roche-Posay Anthelios, which cost a whopping $18.82 an ounce but whose score hung a whole 10 points below No-Ad.

Testers also observed how sunscreens smelled, how they felt on the skin and how much each sunscreen stained clothing. It turns out that, while you have your choice of scents and feels among the high-scoring sunscreens, you might be stuck with the staining — any high-quality sunblock worth its SPF left a mark.

Don't let that deter you from putting sunscreen everywhere, though — as fellow Booster Shots blogger Jeannine Stein discovered, the burn will find those spots you missed.

Follow me on Twitter @LAT_aminakhan.

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