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Which Sunscreen Rates Best? Drugstore Brand A 'Best Buy'


Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summertime season -- do you have enough sunscreen?

Consumer Reports recently tested 18 popular brands and although none were rated excellent in all categories, several were very good and a drugstore brand even earned a "best buy" rating.

Two brands failed to meet testing standards for adequate protection, including a kids' sunscreen.

Even though new rules to simplify sunscreen labels have been delayed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until December, Consumer Reports used the new standards to make its assessments.

The FDA rules include requiring products that claim "broad spectrum protection" -- meaning they protect against against both UVB and UVA rays - to pass a "critical wave" test, which Consumer Reports  included in its product testing.

Seven of the sunscreens passed the critical wave test and were rated "very good" against UVA rays -- which age skin and can cause skin cancer -- and excellent against UVB rays, which cause sunburn.

For effective protection that's easy on the budget, the Los Angeles Times reported that the consumer magazine gave "best buy" kudos to two less expensive brands:  No-Ad with Aloe & Vitamin E SPF 45 at a thrifty 59 cents an ounce and Walgreens Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50 at $1.30 an ounce.

(The most expensive -- La Roche-Posay Anthelios 40 with Mexoryl SX SPF 40 -- cost a whopping $20 an ounce, but scored much lower than No-Ad.)

Because the FDA is investigating the possible risk of inhaling spray sunscreens, Consumer Reports recommends against using sprays on kids, especially on their face. If used, spray on hands first before applying to the face.

Other Consumer Reports results:

* Rated best: All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30 lotion rated best, scoring 88 of 100 possible points.

*Also top-rated: Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Sport Performance Activity Dry Protect SPF 30; Coppertone Oil Free Foaming SPF 75+; Coppertone Sport High Performance Ultra Sweatproof SPF 30; and eco All-Natural Sunscreen Body SPF 30.  These products were rated excellent for UVB protection and very good for UVA protection.

* Failed: Two brands flunked the FDA's critical wave test, meaning they don't provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays: Alba Botanica Natural Very Emollient Sunblock Sport SPF 45 and Banana Boat Kids Tear-Free Sting-Free SPF 50+. (A better choice for children would be Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50, which ranked excellent for UVB protection and very good for UVA.)

* Remember: SPF stands for the product's Sun Protection Factor against sunburn-causing UVB rays. Use a sunscreen that is water-resistant with an SPF of at least 30. Above 30, you get little extra protection.

In other health news:

Kidney stone rates double in last 16 years. Kidney stones are nearly twice as common now as they were in the early 1990s, according to a new study. In 1994, one in 20 people in the U.S. had kidney stones, in the years between 2007 and 2010, the rate was one in 11, reports The study, from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that people with obesity, diabetes or gout were more likely than healthy people to be diagnosed with kidney stones.

The iPhone: The biggest thing for the blind and visually impaired since Braille. The Atlantic reports that Apple's smart phone has turned out to be the most revolutionary development since the invention of Braille for the blind and visually impaired. The key is an accessibility setting that uses finger taps to get to apps. Blind critic Tommy Edison has even posted a video on how blind people use the iPhone 4S.

Detergent 'pods' will be made safer for children. The Associated Press reports that the maker of Tide Pods will create a new container with a double-latch lid to deter children from accessing and eating the brightly colored detergent packets. Since the 1-inch packets, designed to be dropped into a washing machine, went on the market in March, nearly 250 cases of children swallowing them have been reported to poison control centers nationally. The newly packaged containers will show up in stores starting in July, the company said.

Photo credit: Sunbathers in Maryland, 1943, by Esther Bubley, courtesy

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