Not all sunscreens are created equal

FILE - This product image courtesy of Coppertone shows their Kids Pure & Simple SPF50 sunscreen lotion. Germany's Bayer AG said Tuesday, May 6, 2014 it plans to buy U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Inc.'s consumer care business, whose products include the Coppertone suncare range, Claritin allergy medicine and the Dr. Scholl's footcare products, for US $14.2 billion. (AP Photo/Coppertone)

Before you head to the beach or pool this holiday weekend, be sure to stock up on sunscreen. A warning before you do… a new report says not all of them contain the SPF protection promised on the label.

Researchers from Consumer Reports tested 20 brands of sunscreen and only two provided the amount of protection listed on the bottle. Those sunscreens were Bullfrog Wateramor Sport Instacool SPF 50+ and Coppertone Sensitive Skin SPF 50. The FDA requires manufacturers to test their own products, but the agency never verifies the results.

Consumer Reports is recommending seven of the tested sunscreens. While not all of them met the SPF claimed on the label, they did provide very good to excellent protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Keep in mind, using any sunscreen is better than using none.

The full report and sunscreen ratings can be found in the July 2014 issue of Consumer Reports and online at

From Consumer Reports’ website:

“We found a wide variability of effectiveness against UVA rays. Seven sunscreens and one moisturizer tested just fair for UVA protection and two sunscreens tested Poor. In our tests, 18 out of 20 sunscreens did not provide the SPF (UVB) protection promised on their labels. (We found differences between the claimed SPF and the actual SPF in our tests last year as well.) That doesn’t mean the sunscreens aren’t protective, but you may not be getting the protection you think you are. One of the tested sunscreens rated just Fair against UVB rays and another received a Poor rating. We can’t say why our test results differ from the manufacturers’ claims, but they show that SPF isn’t always carved in stone.”

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