Consumer Reports reveals best sunscreens

Despite some cooler temperatures this week, summery weather will soon settle in across the D.C. area.

That means T-shirts, shorts, beach trips — and a healthy dose of sunscreen to make sure you don’t get fried by the sun.



Consumer Reports provided its recommendations for the best lotion and spray-on sunscreens in order to give golfers, boaters and sunbathers a more complete picture than the Food and Drug Administration ratings found on bottles.

Consumer Reports tests each product according to two main criteria:

  1. How well it prevents sunburns, which is shown in its SPF grade.
  2. How well it prevents the kind of rays that cause skin cancer and skin aging, which is shown in its UVA (ultraviolet A) grade.

You might be surprised to learn that Consumer Reports’ best sunscreens are not solely boutique brands, but some that can be found for a bargain.

The publication made a point to say that using any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen at all, and that even the best sunscreen still needs to be reapplied every two hours when you’re in the sun.

(While Consumer Reports didn’t say exactly how many ounces each unit of sunscreen was sold in, the package sizes are all in the same ballpark.)

Best lotion sunscreens

Equate (Walmart) Ultra Lotion SPF 50 Sunscreen

  • SPF protection — 4/5
  • UVA protection — 5/5
  • Price — $5

Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Lotion SPF 30 Sunscreen

  • SPF protection — 3/5
  • UVA protection — 5/5
  • Price — $32

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Lotion SPF 60 Sunscreen

  • SPF protection — 4/5
  • UVA protection — 5/5
  • Price — $36 to $53

Best spray-on sunscreens

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Coconut Clear Spray SPF 50 Sunscreen

  • SPF protection — 4/5
  • UVA protection — 4/5
  • Price — $9.50 to $16

Sun Bum Spray SPF 50

  • SPF protection — 4/5
  • UVA protection — 4/5
  • Price — $16 to $25.50

Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+ Sunscreen

  • SPF protection — 4/5
  • UVA protection — 5/5
  • Price — $6

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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