How Effective Is Your Sunscreen? 

Paul M. Graham, DO

On Tuesday May 17th, Consumer Reports released findings on a study that was conducted looking at how effective sunscreens really are when used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. They looked at 65 different sunscreen lotions, sprays, and sticks with an SPF of 30 or more. They found that approximately 43% of sunscreens that were tested, failed to meet the SPF claim as stated on the label. Another interesting findings was that the majority of the sunscreens that failed to live up to the stated SPF value were actually physical UV blockers (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide), which are often recommended over sunscreen with chemical UV blockers. They also found that the mineral-based sunscreens performed very poorly in comparison to sunscreen with chemical blockers. The effectiveness of “waterproof” sunscreen did not live up to the name. Consumer Reports stated that “no such product exist” that is entirely “waterproof” and is often misleading to the consumer. As I mentioned in my previous post, Sun Protection: The Burning Truth,  make sure to apply sunscreen at least 15-30 mins prior to going outside, with reapplication needed every two hours thereafter. Sun protection is extremely important and often under emphasized. Using good sun protection practices will help prevent sunburns, wrinkles, and skin cancers in the years to come. Stay keen, wear your sunscreen.

Below are some recommended sunscreens that offer superior protection as mentioned by the Consumer Reports study:

  • La Roche-Posay Anthellos 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk lotion

  • Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 lotion

pure sun

  • Banana Boat SunComfort Continuous Spray SPF 50+

Banana boat

  • Aveen Protect + Hydrate SPF 30


  • No-Ad Sport SPF 50 lotion

no ad

  • Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 50

If you have any further questions regarding the use of sunscreen, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Photo Credit: Natural Image OC


Please note, our medical disclaimer applies to all information, images, recommendations, and comments published on this page.

Published by Dr. Paul M. Graham

Paul M. Graham, D.O. (Founder/Editor-in-chief) founded Dimensional Dermatology in May 2016 with the vision to provide concise, easy to read, up-to-date dermatology and aesthetic medicine information to patients, medical staff, providers, and the general public. Dr. Graham is currently completing his training as a cosmetic dermatologic surgery fellow in Virginia Beach, Virginia at the McDaniel Laser and Cosmetic Center. He completed his dermatology training at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and was a clinical instructor at Michigan State University. He received his B.S. degree as Summa Cum Laude at Old Dominion University, his D.O. degree as Cum Laude at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, completed his internship at Largo Medical Center in Largo, Florida as chief intern, and completed his dermatology residency training at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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