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Skip the sunburn on spring break

Consumer Reports News: March 19, 2012 09:38 AM

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Nothing can ruin a spring vacation faster than a nasty case of sunburn. Hello, lobster! Wondering which sunscreen to get before heading out to Vegas or Punta Cana? No worries—our testing pros have the answers.

One of our two Best Buys was a Walgreens brand. Among the other sunscreens we tried were Banana Boat, Coppertone, and Hawaiian Tropic. Check out our Ratings (available to subscribers) to see how they and others fared.

To help keep you from frying this spring break:

  • Buy a sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 (drop that tanning oil, or you'll look like Snooki in a few years!). If you can't find one of our recommended sunscreens, pick a broad-spectrum water-resistant one that claims to protect against both UVA and UVB rays, which are linked to skin cancer.
  • Fill up most of a 1.5-ounce shot glass with sunscreen--that's how much you should apply each time you use it (at least every two hours and after you go swimming or sweat a lot). Or spray generously while applying it evenly and then spray yourself again. Avoid using sprays on children.
  • Rub sunscreen in 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. If it's windy out, apply spray sunscreen to your hand and rub it in. For your face, spray your hands and then rub it in. We found that most of the sunscreens in our tests stain, so be careful not to get it on your beach attire.
  • Bring a big hat, a long-sleeved beach cover-up, and sunglasses to help shield you from those harmful rays.
  • Pack sunscreen in your checked luggage, not your carry-on, if you want to keep it. Check out the TSA carry-on rules before you get to the airport.
  • Be sure to check back before Memorial Day for our annual "sun"-sational sunscreen guide.

See our advice for preventing skin cancer and how to distinguish between a mole and melanoma.

Nicole Sarrubbo

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