Is your sunscreen providing enough protection?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The On Your Side Investigators have a consumer alert about the sunscreen you may be wearing. It may not provide as much protection as you think.

WREG talked with experts to debunk some common myths about sunscreen.

It may just be an early summer day at the splash park, but the moms WREG met are serious about their sunscreen.

“So we’ve got spray, we’ve got lotion…this is not even half of what I have,” said Emilie Wetick as she showed WREG the pile of sunscreen in her bag.

She sat next to Sara Casey as their daughters played and splashed in the water.

Casey’s uncle died of melanoma when she was a child, so she’s always taking steps to protect her kids from the sun’s harmful rays.

She even searched out sunscreen sensitive enough for her daughter’s eczema-prone skin.

Casey said, “I actually found an app that rated sunscreens and told you the ingredients that were in them, so I found it on there and ordered it and it’s been fantastic.”

However, new research from Consumer Reports reveals the sunscreen in your beach bag may not provide the protection you need!

It tested 20 sunscreens and only recommended seven, and only two contained the SPF promised on the package.

“If skin cancer’s an epidemic and we’re promoting sunscreen as a way to stem the tide of skin cancer, it’s very important that people understand exactly what they’re trying to do and when they buy a product they know exactly what they’re getting,” says Dr. John Huber of the Memphis Dermatology Clinic.

Dr. Huber helped WREG debunk some common myths about sunscreen.

Myth #1 – A little goes a long way

“You’re supposed to use like two tablespoons of sunscreen, which means that over the course of a week, you should easily go through a bottle of sunscreen,” Dr. Huber said.

He says most folks don’t use enough, especially with sprays.  He says coverage should be thick.

Myth #2 – Kids need sunscreen with a special formula

Dr. Huber said, “A lot of times they have the exact same ingredients, a lot of times, it may just have a little cartoon on the label or smell like baby powder.”

While there are some tear and sting free formulas, that’s about it.

In fact, the FDA doesn’t make a distinction for children’s sunscreen or hold it to a higher standard.

Myth #3 – A super high SPF provides even more protection

According to Dr. Huber, “The sunscreens that go up to 50 cover about 95 percent, 98 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet light so anything you get above that is just trying to squeeze out that last five percent to one percent out.”

Plus, you still need to re-apply.

You should also watch for catchy, marketing phrases on bottles. There are only requirements for the terms SPF, broad spectrum and water-resistant.
Also, while the FDA requires manufacturers to test their products, it doesn’t verify the testing.

Dr. Huber says even more important to remember, is that sunscreen is only a small part of protection.

“There’s also avoidance, and wearing physical sun blocks like a hat or something, clothing that’s infused with SPF to protect you from the sun.”

Consumers Union recently wrote a letter to the FDA asking the agency to force manufacturers to use better ingredients in sunscreen.  They also want clarification on spray sunscreens and those with higher SPFs.

Consumer Reports Tested Sunscreens

Lotions

  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50-CR Recommended
  • Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50-CR Recommended
  • No-Ad Sport SPF 50
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin SPF 50 (SPF posted matched after water immersion)
  • Well at Walgreens Baby SPF 50
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple SPF 50
  • California Baby Super Sensitive SPF 30+
  • Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sport SPF 45
  • Up & Up Kids SPF 50
  • Beyond Coastal Natural SPF 30
  • Banana Boat Kids SPF 50

Sprays

  • BullFrog WaterArmour Sport InstaCool SPF 50+-CR Recommended (SPF posted matched after water immersion)
  • Up & Up Sport SPF 50-CR Recommended
  • Well at Walgreens Sport SPF 50-CR Recommended
  • Coppertone Sport High Performance SPF 30
  • CVS Sheer Mist SPF 30
  • Banana Boat Sport Performance CoolZone SPF 30
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 30

Ultrahigh SPF

  • Banana Boat Ultra Defense Max Skin Protect SPF 110-CR Recommended
  • Neutrogena Ultimate Sport SPF 70+ (lotion)-CR Recommended
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