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What's behind our sunscreen Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 12 models in sunscreens to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    This is based on a combination of scores for UVA, SPF, and staining.
  • UVA
    The level of protection against UVA radiation.
  • SPF
    Score based on the product's measured SPF.
  • Staining
    Whether the product stained various fabrics.
  • Cost per oz.
    Approximate retail price divided by the number of ounces of product in the container.
  • Active ingredients
    Active ingredients as specified on the product label.



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Recommended sunscreens

Recommended sunscreens are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Ratings
In tests of sunscreen lotions and sprays, we found many that provided excellent protection against UVB radiation (which causes sunburn), even after immersion in water, along with very good protection against UVA radiation (which penetrates deeper than UVB rays, tanning and aging skin). If you're looking for information about sunscreens, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports' sunscreen reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our sunscreen buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and sunscreen reviews to help you choose the best sunscreen for your needs.

Sunscreen buying guide

Our tests of 12 sunscreens showed that you can't always rely on the SPF number, a measure of protection from burning ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. In fact, two of the tested sunscreens were poor against UVB rays, which causes sunburn and contributes to skin cancer, and one of them was just fair for ultraviolet A (UVA) protection, which tans and ages skin, and also contribute to skin cancer. But six of the sunscreens did well enough to be recommended and will help protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Paying more may not buy more protection. The least effective sunscreens were among the priciest.

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