I’m constantly wondering what the best sunscreen is, so imagine my joy when the most extensive sunscreen study done in a while was released a few days ago.
My son Isaiah has severe sun issues. He has a condition called cholinergic urticaria (basically serious hives and swelling from heat) and, as if regular eczema wasn’t enough, he has heat induced eczema.
So after being in the sun for a few hours, he looks like he went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.
While sunblock doesn’t really help, it’s much better than nothing.
It certainly doesn’t help shut up rude people from saying “Wow he sure got some sun!” while I stand in line at the pharmacist holding my miserable son.
Yeah jerk. I let my son play outside all day with no hat and no sunblock. As if.
Trust me. I’ve made an art out of finding the perfect sunblock. The perfect rash guard. The perfect sun hat. The perfect combination of clothing and hats, sunblock and sunblock stick.
Reapply. Reapply. Reapply.
I could teach you how to care for your child in the sun, buddy.
And yet every year we go through the same struggles. We try to anticipate what will happen. How it will happen. How we can avoid it.
Since our first sun exposure is usually on summer vacation, we visit the allergist first. Get a bottle of steroids, steroid cream and lots of well-meaning advice. We believe we are prepared. But how can you prepare for your son’s face swelling up like a balloon and his body covered in a nasty rash?
It gets harder as he gets older because he’s more aware of what it feels like and what’s happening. And therefore, he’s more likely to be anxious about what the next day in the sun will hold.
Not a lot is known about the types of heat and sun allergies he has, and even less is known about how to treat it. You can’t test on kids.
Instead, I advocate as best I can and study and read and use him as my guinea pig as I try and retry sunscreens.
Fortunately for him, the swelling and eczema actually dissipate as he gets used to the heat.
The hives not so much.
In honor of my yearly research study, I’d like to share the findings of Consumer Report’s best Sunscreens in 2016. The Cancer Health Center has also piped in on this list.
What’s amazing is that 4 out of 10 sunscreens (40%!) did not meet the SPF they claimed to have!!
I highly recommend sharing this page and this report because TWO PRODUCTS CLAIMING TO HAVE AN SPF OF 50 ACTUALLY HAD AN SPF OF 8. Yes. I am yelling. An SPF of 8! Here you are expecting that you’re protecting your child from the sun by using SPF50, and your poor child is being blasted by skin-sizzling sun protected by a mere 8 SPF.
This year, their report is more comprehensive because it includes all products. Lotions, sprays, sticks, and facial sunscreens, as well as both adult and children’s formulas. The actual full report that explains the SPF and broad-spectrum will be published in the July issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
For now, we know that 17 sunscreens earned a spot on the organization’s “recommended” list.
The testing uses volunteers who soak in water after the sunscreens are applied, and then have their skin exposed to UV light.
So what is the best sunscreen for 2016?
Believe it or not only two products earned a perfect score:
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk lotion, with an SPF of 60 for a whopping $35.99 on Amazon.
- Trader Joe’s Spray with an SPF of 50+ only costs $6. If you’re not near a Trader Joe’s you can get an Amazon pack of their products here.
If you can’t get either of the top two best sunscreens for 2016, here are 15 others that make the recommended list:
- Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 Disney Frozen at $16.40 on Amazon
- Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 at $3.47 on Amazon
- Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50
- No-Ad Sport SPF 50 at $14.67 on Amazon
- Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish SPF 30 at $12.95 on Amazon
- Aveeno Protect + Hydrate SPF 30 at $11.52 on Amazon
- Banana Boat Sun Comfort Continuous Spray SPF 50+ at $16.22 on Amazon
- Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection SPF 70 at $7.99 on Amazon
- Caribbean Breeze Continuous Tropical Mist SPF 70
- Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30
- DG Body Sport SPF 30 (spray)
- Coppertone Kids Stick SPF 55 at $8.78 a stick on Amazon. Or get a a 3-Pack for $16.94.
- Up & Up Kids Stick SPF 55
- Avon Sun + Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 40
- Up & Up Ultra Sheer SPF 30 (facial sunscreen)
Some notes on the testing:
Believe it our not, mineral sunscreens with ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc were less likely to meet their SPF claims than chemical sunscreens. This was brutal for me to read because my gut has always told me to turn away from chemical sunscreens. However, sometimes I have to make the decision to protect my child, regardless of my feelings about avoiding chemicals. The fact is that SPF protection is what blocks harmful UV rays from burning our kids.
You should know that 2 products fell far short of their claimed SPF. These are the two that tested at a SPF of 8 instead of the claimed 50 SPF:
- Banana Boat Kids Tear-Free, Sting-Free Lotion SPF 50
- CVS Kids Sun Lotion SPF 50
Obviously, the disparity in the SPF a sunblock claims to have and the amount it actually protects us from is is very troubling for parents. How can we trust that the sunblock we have is actually doing what it claims?
That’s why I do so much research and why I only buy sunscreens from this list. I can’t worry about the avobenzone and the oxybenzone. I have to worry about my son’s health, his skin and his potential for skin cancer.
I wish I could be as consistent about the no-chemicals rule with sunscreen choices as I am about what I put in his body, but the fact is I must advocate for my son’s health.
I have to thank Consumer Report’s for doing this work so that as parent’s, we’re able to make the most informed sunscreen choices for our children.
Pin for later!