Consumer Reports Just Dropped Its List of Sunscreens for Summer 2020

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

In case you haven't noticed, we're big on sun protection at ishonest. Aside from making sure your beach vacation stays free of painful sunburns, sunscreen also helps ward off exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays, which are not friends to skin, as they can cause skin cancer and promote the formation of fine lines.

That's why, it's even more important than ever to up your SPF IQ by slathering on the most effective sunscreens, and being aware of common sun myths.

Luckily, there are tons of science-backed resources to help you do this — chief among them the advocacy group at Consumer Reports, which for the seventh year running has released a formal report of the best sunscreens for 2020.

The organization looked at four types of sunscreens, including lotions, sprays, mineral, and those without the chemical oxybenzone. It 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 then 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 sunscreens you can feel good about reaching for this summer.

Lotion:

Like last year, lotion formulas scored the highest marks. The takeaway? Slathering is still the best way to go to stay worry-free in the sun.

This broad-spectrum drugstore formula nourishes the skin with vitamin E while protecting against both UVA and UVB rays. It also blends in seamlessly with no white cast and never feels greasy.

This ultralight lotion sinks into skin super quick, which makes reapplying every two hours no big deal.

Spray:

The top-scoring spray sunscreens are also among the cheapest protection options out there, with the winning formulas clocking in at just $6. Spray up — then rub in.

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.

This oil-free sunscreen spray feels featherlight on the skin and blends out in mere seconds — it's no wonder it landed the number-two spot.

Without Oxybenzone

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked sunscreen manufacturers to provide additional information on oxybenzone, a chemical that, as recent research shows, can be absorbed through the skin more than previously thought. While they're not saying it's toxic, some brands have chosen to forego the chemical in favor of a cleaner formula.

This no-frills formula contains vitamins C and E for added skin-care benefit. Additionally, it's made with mango butter extract and shea butter to soothe and nourish dry skin.

Another Hawaiian Tropic formula, this SPF spray is reef-safe, fast-absorbing, and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Additionally, aloe vera soothes the skin, while panthenol,, a derivative of vitamin B, hydrates.

Mineral

The two main ingredients in mineral sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and they work by absorbing into the surface layers of skin and deflecting the sun's harmful rays. Below are the two top picks for 2020.

This Amazon-favorite sunscreen is beloved for its weightless feel and ability to work on all skin types — even the most sensitive complexions.

This soothing mineral SPF contains sunflower oil, beeswax, and sea buckthorn to nourish and soothe dry skin types.

Now, check out more on sun protection:

Dermatologists Weigh In on the Safety of Glitter Sunscreen

Should You Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer? Dermatologists Weigh In

How to Reapply Sunscreen While Wearing Makeup

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