Store-Brand Sunscreens From Target, Walmart, Walgreens Outperform Higher-Priced Options In Test

If you think you get what you pay for when you buy sunscreen, you might be in for a surprise. Our less-sunburned cousins at Consumer Reports recently put a dozen sun-protection products to the test and the ones that came out on top were also among the least expensive.

The good news is that eight of the 12 tested products scored Very Good ratings when it came to protecting against UVA and UVB rays. Only one product — All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30 — scored a Fair rating in that category. This product also had the lowest overall score on the Consumer Reports list.

Three of the four top-scoring products in the test were store brands from large national chains. Target’s UP & UP Sport SPF 50 spray had the highest overall score, followed by Walmart’s Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50 lotion. At only $.47/oz., the Walmart lotion was also labeled a “Best Buy” by CR. The Target spray goes for about $1.16/oz.

Coppertone Water Babies 50 lotion was the only non-store brand to crack the top four, and at $1.38/oz. it’s not much more expensive than the others in its range of scores, like the Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50 from Walgreens which had the fourth-highest overall score and sells for around $1.33/oz.

Some of the higher-priced products in the survey, like Badger Unscented SPF 34 lotion ($5.52/oz.) and the aforementioned All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30 lotion ($4.33/oz.) di not do well on tests for protection against UVB rays, says Consumer Reports. The most expensive sunscreen in the test, California Baby SPF 30+ ($6.90/oz.) only received a “Good” rating on tests for protection against UVA rays and a “Poor” rating for staining fabrics.

Since CR could not possibly test every sunscreen there is, it recommends that when you go looking for protection this summer, you seek out a product that claims broad-spectrum protection, is water resistant, and has a stated SPF of at least 40.

For more on sunscreens, including how CR tested the products, go to ConsumerReports.org.