These are the best sunscreens for 2021, according to Consumer Reports

Posted at 9:22 AM, May 18, 2021

(WXYZ) — We've all heard the warnings about skin cancer, but that doesn't mean we always follow our doctor's advice. So, dermatologists are trying to make it easy, saying the best sunscreen is the one you'll actually use.

But, a Consumer Reports test found that some sunscreens are better at protecting your skin than others.

To check a sunscreen's SPF, which stands for sun protection factor and is a measure of how well it protects against sunburn, Consumer Reports used lotion and spray sunscreen and applied to the backs of test subjects, who then soak in a tub for 40-80 minutes, depending on the product's water-resistance claim.

The area is then exposed to simulated sunlight.

The next day, trained experts examine the area for redness.

The top lotion is Equate Walmart Sport Lotion SPF 50 and the top spray is Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Spray SPF 30.

Which one is better? It's really a personal preference, but what really matters is how you apply the sunscreen.

If you're using lotion, use about a teaspoon per body part or area that's not covered up with clothing.

Sprays can be trickier to apply than lotions, and it can be harder to judge whether you've completely covered your skin.

“The proper way to use a spray is to hold the nozzle about 4 to 6 inches from your skin and spray until your skin glistens, then rub it in. Smoothing it into the skin increases its protection. Then repeat, just to be safe," Trisha Calvo said.

Also, never spray your face. instead, spray the sunscreen into your hands and rub it on your face.

Consumer Reports also recommends being careful using spray on children because they are more likely to inhale the mist.

All of Consumer Reports' top-rated sunscreens contain chemical active ingredients. If you prefer a mineral or natural sunscreen, CR's test found California Kids Super Sensitive Tinted Lotion SPF 30+ provided acceptable protection.

The best sunscreens, according to Consumer Reports, are:


  1. Equate (Walmart) Sport Lotion SPF 50
  2. Kiehl's Activated Sun Protector Lotion SPF 30
  3. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Lotion SPF 70


  1. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Coconut clear spray SPF 50
  2. Banana Boat Ultra Sport Spray SPF 100
  3. Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Spray SPF 30
  4. La Roche-Posay Athelios Lotion Spray SPF 60


  1. Badger Active Natural Mineral Cream SPF 30 unscented
  2. California Kids super sensitive tinted lotion SPF 30+