The Best Sunscreens Of 2019, According To Consumer Reports

No mineral sunscreens made the list.

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<strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In&nbsp;Sunscreen&nbsp;Milk</a></strong> and <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Trader Joe&rsquo;s Spray SPF 50</a></strong> were rated 2019's best sunscreens for the fourth year in a row.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk and Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50 were rated 2019's best sunscreens for the fourth year in a row.

Not all sunscreens are created equal, according to the product-testing and review experts at Consumer Reports who just released their latest report on the best sunscreens of 2019.

La Roche-Posay’s Anthelio Melt-In Sunscreen Milk received a top score from the publication for the fourth year in a row, making it the best lotion sunscreen for this year. Consumer Reports ranks sunscreens annually after conducting a rigorous testing process that judges the formula’s UVA and UVB protection, SPF, variation from SPF, cost and overall performance.

“A sunscreen’s performance depends on its formulation, not only the type of active ingredients it contains, but the concentration of those active ingredients as well as the other ingredients a sunscreen contains and how they all interact with each other,” said Trisha Calvo, CR’s deputy editor for health and food.

La Roche-Posay’s Melt-In Sunscreen Milk received an “Excellent” overall performance rating, meaning it’s “very good” for both UVA and UVB protection and had little variation in testing from the bottle’s listed SPF. That’s good news for shoppers who want to know they’re actually getting what they pay for. And at $36 a bottle, you’re paying quite a lot. (Although we’ve spotted it at Walmart for only $30.)

We've spotted 2019's best sunscreen <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at Walmart for $30</a></strong>. It's normally about $36.
We've spotted 2019's best sunscreen at Walmart for $30. It's normally about $36.

But price isn’t everything when it comes to sunscreens. In fact, the top-rated spray sunscreen for 2019 is Trader Joe’s Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+, which rings up for about $6 in stores. Like the La Roche-Posay formula, it received a perfect rating for the fourth year in a row ― its only downside is its flammability factor (an issue with all spray sunscreens).

So, does that mean that all La Roche-Posay and Trader Joe’s sunscreens are the same? Not exactly, Calvo said.

“You can’t really shop by brand,” she told HuffPost. “In our tests, we see difference in performance for UVA, SPF, and variation from SPF among different products from the same brands. For example, Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70 had an overall score of 94 and is one of our recommended sunscreen lotions. But Coppertone Defend & Care Sensitive Skin Lotion SPF 50 got an overall score of 41.”

“None of the 17 mineral sunscreen we tested got top scores in our ratings.”

- Trisha Calvo, deputy editor for health and food, Consumer Reports

All that said, there are also concerns about the effects of sunscreens on our oceans, coral reefs and health. It’s easy to find a list of reef-safe sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate, but it’s harder to know exactly which ones are effective at saving your skin.

“In Consumer Reports’ tests over the years, we have not found a ‘natural/mineral’ sunscreen — one that contains only zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as active ingredients — that provided the whole protection package: top-notch protection for UVA and SPF, and had minimal variation from SPF,” Calvo said. “None of the 17 mineral sunscreen we tested got top scores in our ratings.”

If you’d still prefer a mineral sunscreen, Consumer Reports recommends California Kids Super Sensitive Lotion SPF 30. It offers some sun protection, but it doesn’t offer as much as the publication’s highest-rated sunscreens, all of which contain oxybenzone. If you’re simply looking for a sunscreen without oxybenzone, you might try Walgreens Hydrating Lotion SPF 50 Sunscreen and Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance Lotion SPF 50 Sunscreen as acceptable alternatives.

You can browse Consumer Reports’ full list of 2019 sunscreen rankings here.

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Reef Safe Mineral Sunscreens That Are Better For The Environment [slideshow]