As per a recent study, close to 50 percent of American sunscreen products have less of a Sun Protection Factor (SPF), than indicated on their labels. A team at Consumer Reports conducted an independent evaluation of over 60 sunscreen products (which included sticks, sprays, as well as lotions) and discovered 43 percent had a lower SPF than that of what their bottles had promised.
In fact, out of 35 sunscreen lotions tested, 13 of them had a lower SPF level then 30; yet, all the bottles claimed to be an SPF 30 product. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, to avoid a sunburn and potential skin cancers, it is recommended to choose a sunscreen product at a SPF 30 level.
The worst of the bunch were the CVS brand children’s sun lotion and the Banana Boat Tear-Free, Sting-Free lotion; where both promised an SPF of 50, yet only had an SPF of 8.
As a huge chunk of the sunscreen products reviewed did not have the SPF that were claimed on their labels, falling short by about 10 to 15 points (approximately) per product, Consumer Reports strongly advices that when it comes to sunscreen products, people should reach for an SPF of 40; which would provide you with the best chances of getting a product that has a level of SPF 30.
The team also found that ‘natural’ sunscreens with mineral active ingredients were less likely to perform as well as those products with chemical active ingredients, like ecamsule and avobenzone.
CNN reported that the Consumer Reports team reached to CVS and Banana Boat regarding their findings.
A representative for Banana Boat responded by saying that the Kids SPF 50 product that Consumer Reports is referring too, did in fact meet the specifications in their testing and manufacturing processes, to hit the product’s SPF level. CVS also retested their sunscreen and found the product met the SPF 50 rating, when they did so.
So, where is the discrepancy between the Consumer Reports evaluation, and how these manufacturers test their sunscreen products?
When it comes to the Consumer Reports study, the team tested the sunscreen’s protection for an hour and 20 minutes, after participants had been in water; while, for the most part, manufacturers review their sunscreen on participants who aren’t in the water or have gotten wet.
As there is a huge difference, there is a potential that some sunscreens do not stand up to the notion of being ‘water resistant’; as they should maintain their level of SPF, despite water.
While applying sunscreen is an important factor in the summer time, there are other ways to shelter your skin from the sun. Protective clothing can be worn, hats, and of course, staying the shade, when the opportunity arises.