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A look at the best sunscreen for your money


A May 2014 study from Consumer Reports has ranked sunscreens and found that you don't have to pay big bucks to protect your skin from harsh UV rays.

Here's what so funny: The highest rated sunscreen that got a Best Buy recommendation turned out to be the cheapest one per ounce they tested!

Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50, which is a Walmart storebrand lotion, clinched the Best Buy trophy with a score of 80 from Consumer Reports. It costs only 56 cents an ounce, which represents a 9-cent increase in price since last year. Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (13%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (7%), and Oxybenzone (4%). 

The only sunblock to score higher in the lotion category was Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50. This lotion got a score of 81 and costs $1.38. The active ingredient list mirrors that of Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50, with the exact same concentration of active ingredients.

When it comes to sprays, longtime Consumer Reports favorite UP & UP Sport SPF 50 got a 90 -- a full 10 points higher than last year's showing for this Target housebrand. Amazingly, the cost per ounces has dropped to 80 cents, down from $1.16 last year! Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (10%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (4%), and Oxybenzone (5%).

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The historical favorite in this annual tally has been NO-AD Sport SPF 50 with Avobenzone, Aloe, and Vitamin E SPF 45. The NO-AD lotion scored a 69 this time out -- up 20 points from last year. The cost per ounce is 63 cents. Active ingredients include Avobenzone (2.0%), Homosalate (15.0%), Octisalate (5.0%), and Oxybenzone (5.0%).

I was talking with a dermatologist last week and she said the real problem is too many people apply sunscreen too sparsely. You need to put gobs of it on your kids. My kids are conditioned to know that it's a five-minute ordeal while we slather them up before they can go out into the sun. It's a necessary precaution. But don't forget yourself either.

If you're like me and grew up in the generation when nobody wore sunscreen, we're a ticking time bomb for skin cancer and melanoma. In many cases, early skin cancer detected is just a little aggravation that's easily treated. But undetected, it can grow into melanoma and cost you your life.

Whatever sunscreen you get, be sure it says "broad spectrum" on the label for maximum protection.

   
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Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert



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