Consumer Reports' tests help you choose and use sunscreen for good skin protection

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No matter your age or skin color, if you’re going to be outside longer than a few minutes, you’ll need to use sunscreen to protect yourself against skin cancer , wrinkles and sun damage. Consumer Reports cuts through all the jargon to help find the best sunscreen for you.

SPF is a measure of how well a sunscreen guards against ultraviolet B rays from the sun. UVB rays are he chief cause of sunburn and a contributor to skin cancer.

As part of Consumer Reports testing, sunscreen is applied to subjects’ backs, then they soak in a tub for 40 or 80-minutes, depending on the product’s water-resistance claim. The area is then exposed to UVB light. The next day, trained experts examine the area for redness.

In CR’s sunscreen tests, many sunscreens did not meet the SPF level printed on the package. So Consumer Reports recommends buying a chemical sunscreen with an SPF 40 or higher. Two of CR’s top best buy sunscreens are, Walmart's Equate Sport Lotion SPF 50 and Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50.

If you’re looking for a sunscreen containing mineral ingredients, thinking they contain fewer chemicals, shop carefully.

In CR’s sunscreen tests in recent years, we haven’t found a mineral sunscreen that provides both top-notch protection and meets its labeled SPF.

As for water resistant sunscreens, don’t make the mistake of thinking that water-resistant means waterproof. The minute you get into the water or start to sweat, the sunscreen starts to come off. So when you get out of the water you have to reapply.

To have a great sunburn free summer, CR recommends applying sunscreen 15 minutes before you go out. Be sure to cover often overlooked spots, such as your ears, upper back, the backs of your hands and the tops of your feet. And reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

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