Sun protection doesn’t have to burn your summer fun budget.
You want a quality sunscreen (you’re not cooking me, harmful UVA and UVB rays!), but you also don’t want to spend a fortune on skin protection. Consumer Reports has got you covered, and we’ve got the deals! Check out these best, top-rated sunscreens that’ll cost you less than your beach parking pass. (We’ve also got three of the worst sunscreen options.)
*Note these prices may vary by location and are meant to be used as a base comparison price.
Best sunscreens under $9
Trader Joe’s: $5.99
As if we could love Trader Joe’s even more. Their sunscreen spray has been given the highest ranking for spray sunscreen application by Consumer Reports, and for good reason! It provides UVA & UVB protection, contains skin nourishing ingredients like aloe, vitamin E, and coconut oil, and it’s water resistant! The best part? It’s only $6 a can!
Rite Aid: $8.04
This great aerosol option offers excellent UVA and UVB protection. Its formula leaves very little residue, so it won’t feel sticky or tacky (perfect for the beach)! Along with this spray’s water resistance, you’ll enjoy the nice coconut and tropical fruit aroma.
Hip Tip: The packaging has recently been updated to a light blue bottle, so keep an eye out for the branding change when shopping for this sunscreen.
This lotion slathers on the protection with excellent protection performance along with being water resistant. Testers also reported this sunscreen has a barely noticeable aroma.
Yep, that’s a generic brand ranking near the top of this list. Walmart’s Equate brand lotion offers excellent UVA/UVB protection sunscreen performing up to its 50 SPF claim. The scent is a classic, beachy fragrance of floral and citrus.
Hip Tip: Planning a summer vacation? Check out these ways to save big on travel!
This tiny stick scores “Very Good” for UVA and UVB protection. The only downfall: the Consumer Reports panel did mention a very slight plastic aroma (which can occur with the fragrance-free product), and it leaves behind a slightly waxy film.
Equate is not a force to be reckoned with (this is the SECOND time they’ve made the list)! This spray version of their sunscreen receives its high rank from solid UVA/UVB protection. It also has a pleasant, beachy aroma and a wide spray application (helpful with antsy kids running for the sun and surf).
The dermatologist-recommended suncare brand Neutrogena developed this formula with beach-goers in mind. This lightweight, oil-free, and fast-absorbing spray is great for active families, and it’s perfect for easy application in sandy areas. It scored Excellent overall, with a UVA protection of “Very Good”.
Worst sunscreens tested by Consumer Reports
Despite positive reviews on Target.com and an overall “Fair” report in performance, Consumer Reports testing found that this SPF spray varied over 50% below its advertised sun protection value. Keep in mind this was only for the Pear scent, though it could be assumed that the other fragrances may perform similarly.
Don’t let the advertised “SPF 50+” fool you. This children’s sunscreen lotion ranked “Poor” in sun protection and deviated more than 50% from its 50+ claim. Testers also found it left a white cast and film on the skin.
This is probably the most shocking of all! Even with positive reviews on Target.com, this sunscreen formulated for babies fell wildly short of the 50 SPF claim—it tested under SPF 10! It was also reported to have below-average protection against UVA rays and cast a white, greasy film on the skin. No, thank you!
Consumer Reports’ top sunscreen lotion recommendation?
It’s La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk. And while it rings in at a whopping $36 for a 5 oz bottle, it’s rated 100/100 by the CR research team. It’s dermatologist tested, allergy tested, paraben-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and contains antioxidants to protect skin from free radicals. Oh, and did we mention it has superior UV protection? The only thing this lotion can’t do is shake the beach sand from your towel.
Emily (firstname.lastname@example.org) loves a good deal, especially when it comes to fashion finds, fitness, and all things self-care!
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