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How Effective is Your Sunscreen?

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Whenever we are outdoors, whether it’s cloudy or sunny, we know how important it is to wear sunscreen. We’ve heard it over and over again. Our parents forced us to wear it and now we slather it on our own kids.  We know the rules and do our job to protect ourselves and our family from the sun’s harmful rays. But is our favorite sunscreen doing its job to protect us?

According to a new study by Consumer Reports, of the 104 sunscreen products they tested nearly half of them did not meet the SPF claim they made on the bottle.  To be exact, 42% of the tested lotions, sprays, and sticks fell short. And mineral based sunscreens were even worse with 74% of the 19 tested products not meeting the SPF claims.

Sunscreen has a ton of health benefits besides just preventing sunburn. It can also help prevent the signs of early aging. But more importantly, sunscreen can help reduce the risk of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society states that 5.4 million types of skin cancer are diagnosed each year. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer which is why protecting yourself from the sun is so important.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you use an SPF of 30 or higher. But how can you get that level of protection if the protect isn’t actually giving it to you. The worst offenders in the study were Banana Boat Kids Tear-Free, Sting-Free Lotion and CVS brand Kids Sun Lotion which claimed to have an SPF of 50 but were found to only provide an SPF of 8.

Don’t worry there are still products out there that do meet the SPF claims they make. According to the report the top 5 sunscreens are:

  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60
  • Pure Sun Defense SPF 50
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50
  • Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 (Walmart brand)
  • No-Ad Sport SPF 50

If you can’t get those products the report does provide an alternative which is buying a chemical sunscreen with an SPF of 40 or higher will give you a better chance of getting at least an SPF 30.

The American Academy of Dermatology also suggest buying water resistant sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and staying in the shade whenever possible to protect your skin.

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Author: Alyssa I. Compa

My name is Alyssa! I am the Public Affairs Director at Rowan Radio and the host of "A Community Affair", the "Country Road", and the co-host of the "Early Bird Special". In the Fall of 2015, I co-produced a 30 minute radio documentary about gun violence in America. The project is an award winning piece. I inspire to be a radio or television producer in the near future.

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