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Safe Sun Fun: Consumer Reports' List of Best Sunscreens

sun coverUNITED STATES (5/28/12) - National “Don’t Fry Day,” May 25, 2012, has come and gone, but its lessons remain relevant throughout the year. Don’t Fry Day, started by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP), was created to draw awareness to the condition that is the most common form of cancer in the US and one of the two most common forms of cancer in young people.

The Friday before Memorial Day was chosen for the awareness day, as vacationers headed out to beaches, lakes, golf courses and other outdoor venues in full force to enjoy early summer activities. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the harmful UV rays causing melanoma and other skin cancers can also be damaging to the eyes and cause premature wrinkling of the skin. The NCSCP encourages people to “slip, slop, slap, and wrap” to stay safe this summer: “Slip on a shirt, slop on broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, slap on a wide-brimmed hat, and wrap on sunglasses.”

With endless choices of products to “slop” on this summer, Consumer Reports updated its list of the most effective UV sunscreens on the market as well as those that block the burning UVB rays (click here for the full article). Webmd.com listed the top performing sunscreens in their May 28 article, “Consumer Reports Rates Best Sunscreen Buys”, and the products are divided into categories of “Best Buys” and “Recommended.” As it turns out, according to Consumer Reports, “price had nothing to do with performance.”

Best Buys:

- No-Ad lotion with aloe and vitamin E, SPF 45, $.59/oz.
- Walgreens continuous spray sport, SPF 50, $1.30/oz.
- Coppertone oil-free foaming spray, SPF 75+, $1.67/oz.

Recommended:

- All Terrain Aqua Sport lotion, SPF 30, $4/oz.
- Banana Boat clear ultra-mist sports performance active dry protect spray, SPF 30, $1.63/oz.
- Coppertone sport high performance ultra sweat-proof spray, SPF 30, $1.67/oz.
- Eco all natural sunscreen body lotion, SPF 30, $4.72/oz.

sun bodyAccording to webmd.com, two sunscreens, Alba Botanical natural very emollient sunblock sport and Banana Boat Kids tear-free sting-free, flunked the “broad spectrum” test.

Protecting young children is, of course, important; however, there are special precautions that need to be observed when defending babies and kids from the sun. The potential for children to sunburn is greater than that of adults for several reasons. Not only do kids have more sensitive skin that is at a greater risk of burning quickly, they are more likely to spend a greater amount of time running and playing outside in the sun. Naturally, parents want their kids to stay active without risking their health. Luckily, with the right planning and protection, fun and safety aren’t mutually exclusive.

The following bullets from Consumer Reports’ “Tips on providing the right sun protection for babies and kids” lists some best practices for keeping the young ones safe while allowing them to enjoy summer.

- Covering up as much as possible is the best defense, according to the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and EPA. Wear clothing that’s tightly woven and can’t be seen through. Children should wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a forward-facing bill. Sunglasses are a good idea, too—they should offer 97-100 percent protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Try to avoid sun exposure during peak mid-day hours or times when you’re getting maximum UV radiation (10 AM-4 PM) - Check the local UVA index, using your zip code, as you make your decision about spending time in the sun.
- Assess the risk to you and your family. If you’re fair skinned with light eyes, you’re at higher risk than someone with darker skin (although people with darker skin are also at risk). If there’s a family history of skin cancer, you should be cautious about your sun exposure.
- Spray sunscreens should not be used on or by children, so that they don’t end up breathing it in or getting sunscreen in their mouth. If you don’t have an alternative, spray into your hands and wipe the sunscreen on your child.
- When you are in the sun, apply sunscreen on exposed areas and reapply at least every two hours, or according to product directions for optimum protection. The FDA recommends applying every one and a half to two hours.

The complete article, which can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here, is chock full of helpful tips for children and adults alike, including additional tips for protecting babies and young children, information on what to watch out for in sunscreen ingredients, information on new labeling requirements mandated by the FDA, and additional resources and links.

Casey Piscitelli
SurfKY News

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