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What's behind our sunscreen Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 23 models in sunscreens to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    This is based on a combination of scores for UVA, SPF, and staining.
  • SPF
    Score based on the product's measured SPF.
  • UVA
    The level of protection against UVA radiation.
  • Type
    Whether the product is dispensed as a spray or lotion.
  • Cost per oz.
    Approximate retail price divided by the number of ounces of product in the container.
  • Active ingredients
    Active ingredients as specified on the product label.



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Recommended sunscreens

Recommended sunscreens are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Ratings
In tests of 20 water-resistant sunscreen lotions and sprays, we found many that provided very good or excellent protection against UVB radiation (which causes sunburn) after immersion in water, along with excellent protection against UVA radiation (which penetrates deeper than UVB rays, tanning and aging skin). If you're looking for information about sunscreens, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports' sunscreen reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our sunscreen buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and sunscreen reviews to help you choose the best sunscreen for your needs. Recommended products all have Very Good or Excellent SPF and Excellent UVA scores.

Sunscreen buying guide

Our tests of 20 sunscreens and three moisturizers with sunscreen showed that you can't always rely on the SPF number, a measure of protection from burning ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, which causes sunburn and contributes to skin cancer. We also tested for protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which tan and age skin, and also contribute to skin cancer. We found seven sunscreens that did well enough against both UVA and UVB to recommend.

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