NEW YORK --
Skin cancer is almost epidemic in the U.S. It's the most common type of cancer, with more than one million cases diagnosed each year. Using sunscreen is key to prevention. Consumer Reports' medical advisors say that there's no such thing as a safe tan. Ultraviolet B rays can damage the skin by causing sunburn. And Ultraviolet A rays can wrinkle the skin and cause cancer. Consumer Reports tested a dozen sunscreens, including sprays, lotions, and a cream. All claim to protect against UVB rays and most against UVA rays. But the SPF number on labels only pertains to UVB rays.
Consumer Reports conducted tests at an outside lab to see how well sunscreens protect against both types of rays. Consumer Reports also tested sunscreens' claims of water resistance.
Some of the most expensive products weren't the best. But Consumer Reports found four sprays that offered very good protection, even in water.
Up & Up Sport Continuous SPF 30 (the least expensive)
Walgreens Sport Continuous
Banana Boat Sport Performance Continuous
Aveeno Continuous Protection
But be aware, tests found that almost all of the sunscreens stain fabrics.
Consumer Reports says an SPF of 30 is sufficient for most people. Sunscreen should be applied a half-hour before going out in the sun. And you need to reapply it every two hours and after swimming.
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