The Best Deals on the Best Sunscreen

May 24, 2016
Consumer Reports' best sunscreen ratings will help protect you from that big, hot sun.
Lima Andruska on Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0Consumer Reports’ 2016 best sunscreen ratings will help protect your skin from that big, hot sun.

Consumer Reports recently released its 2016 sunscreen ratings (subscription required), which tested and ranked 70 lotion, spray, and face varieties. Surprisingly, many of its best sunscreen brands are quite inexpensive. This is especially true if you order through Walmart online, which has markedly better prices on most of these products than Amazon.

Here’s the quick roundup of lotions and sprays, plus a shocking finding from the study. All of these top-ranked sunscreens provide excellent protection from both UVA and UVB. (For more on the difference between these two UV rays, check out High-SPF Sunscreens: 2 Common Misconceptions Put Your Skin at Risk.)

Top-Ranked Lotions

While Consumer Reports’ highest-scoring sunscreen was pricey (La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-in Sunscreen Milk, $36 for 5 ounces), the next three were remarkably inexpensive. In order, they were:

Top-Ranked Sprays

SPF Ratings FAIL

Perhaps the most striking finding of the tests was the fact that nearly half of the tested sunscreens failed to meet their listed SPF ratings. Of the 60 sunscreens tested with a claimed SPF of 30 or greater, 28 did not meet the SPF number on the label. All the more reason to do your research and purchase a recommended and proven option.

Chemical Risks?

It’s worth noting that all of the recommended sunscreens above contain oxybenzone, a widely used UV-blocking chemical that may have potential health risks. To find sunscreen options that do not contain oxybenzone, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide (2016 version coming soon) and its roundup of the best beach and sport sunscreens.

And remember, pale is the new tan!


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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.