In total, the organization looked at 73 sunscreens — including lotion, spray, and stick formulas — and evaluated each on two main measures: First, the accuracy of the SPF claim, which measures how long you'd be protected against the UVB rays that cause burns, and second, the effectiveness of the UVA blockers, which shield you from the rays that can age you. The former test is done by smearing sunscreen on a participant's back, having them soak in water, then exposing them to six intensities of UVB light from a sun simulator. An expert than evaluates the redness. The UVA test involves globbing paper plates with sunscreen, blasting them with UVA and UVB light, and measuring how much is absorbed.
After all that testing, Consumer Reports ranked each sunscreen with a rating between 0 and 100 — formulas that scored 81 or higher and received Excellent or Very Good scores for UVA and UVB protection, got the agency's stamp of approval. Based on those scores, here are the top five sunscreens you can feel good about reaching for this summer.
Like last year, lotion formulas scored the highest marks. Seven recommended formulas in total crushed it on UVA/UVB protection and accuracy of SPF claims. The takeaway? Slathering is still the best way to go to stay worry-free in the sun.
1. La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk ($36, Shop Now)
This longtime Allure-favorite topped Consumer Reports' list for the third year running. As one of two sunscreens to score a full 100, it's lightweight, fast-absorbing, and fragrance-free.
2. Equate Sport Lotion SPF 50 ($5, Shop Now)
Who says great sun protection needs to be pricey? At 63 cents an ounce, you won't feel guilty about slathering it everywhere.
Sprays also had some heavy hitters with five formulas scoring recommendations from Consumer Reports. The best part? The top scoring spray sunscreens are also among the cheapest protection options out there, with the top formulas clocking in at under $2 an ounce. Spray up.
3. Trader Joe's Spray SPF 50+ ($6, at Trader Joe's stores)
Trader Joe's sunscreen is the second (and only other) sunscreen to score a perfect 100. As a bonus, the spray has a beachy citrus scent, according to Consumer Reports. Is there anything Trader Joe's can't do?
4. Banana Boat SunComfort Continuous Spray SPF 50+ ($8, Shop Now)
If you like piña coladas and solid SPF protection, Banana Boat delivers. The number two spray with an overall score of 96, has a spray-any-way nozzle, making it perfect for getting to those tough-to-reach spots solo.
Sticks are generally sub-par matches to spray and lotion formulas — only one made it into the 81 and up club to score a Consumer Reports recommendation.
5. Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55 ($8 for two, Shop Now)
This one, from Target's in-house line, comes in a set of two for, you know, double the protection.