Sunscreen: Ratings of Sources
Editors test the effectiveness of lotions, sprays, face sunscreens, lip balms and sunscreen sticks. Each sunscreen is rated from poor to excellent on UVA protection and is tested to see whether it lives up to its claimed SPF. Sunscreens are then ranked with an overall score from 0 to 100. Editors recommend 16 of the dozens of products tested.
Cosmetics expert Paula Begoun's retail website -- namely the Beautypedia Reviews section -- is an excellent resource for research on nearly every type of cosmetic product, including sunscreen. She rates sunscreens based on ingredients, clinical trials and government resources. Information on common ingredients found in sunscreens is provided. Begoun also discusses effectiveness, risk of skin irritation, and value.
Palus and helpers spent 25 hours researching 50 sunscreens and testing 13 of them, ultimately singling out one overall winner and two runners-up. Testers relied on manufacturers' and other experts' claims about SPF, focusing on ease and frequency of application instead. The article includes a discussion of chemical vs. physical sunscreen, what to look for in a sunscreen and how to use it properly.
Environmental Working Group provides a detailed resource on sun safety in general, plus a database of sunscreens that it says are safe for consumers and provide good protection. More than 200 sunscreens meet EWG's criteria. Products are scored for UVA protection, UVA/UVB balance, and health risk based on ingredients. However, it's worth noting that many experts dispute that ingredients flagged by the group pose a real health risk.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab tested 22 face sunscreens on 580 women to find the best for a variety of skin types. The results yield two recommendations for dry skin, two for oily/combo skin, and two for sensitive skin. However, testing methods aren't detailed and the blurbs accompanying recommendations are quite brief. Elsewhere on the site, editors recommend several affordable natural sunscreens.
Lucie's List is a site that focuses on the best gear for babies and small children. Founder Meg Collins recommends four products based on expert reviews and parental feedback. She also details how to keep the smallest babies safe from the sun and discusses the controversies surrounding some sunscreen ingredients.
Some sunscreens sold at Amazon.com get only a handful of customer reviews, but several bestselling products are reviewed hundreds of times. This is a good place to get a sense for how sunscreens perform under imperfect, real-world circumstances instead of in the safety of a lab.
Makeup Alley invites consumers to rate beauty products, and about 1,000 sunscreens are reviewed by members. Product reviews can be sorted in many ways, making it easy for users to find the highest-rated products, as well as those that are reviewed most often. Dozens of products receive more than 50 reviews, while some receive more than 100.
Makeup and skin-care retailer Ulta also includes consumer reviews on its site. Users rate products on a five-star scale, note pros, cons and best uses, and say whether they would recommend the product to a friend.
This Elle roundup focuses on mineral-based physical sunscreens that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Short blurbs highlight what is unique about each sunscreen, but there is no discussion of how products were picked for inclusion or how they stack up against one another or chemical formulas.
This roundup is based on ratings given to products by member of the Total Beauty community. Blurbs highlight the product's pros and include member quotes, but do not compare the products or note any potential cons (except for the two "worst" sunscreens). Elsewhere on the site, a similar roundup of facial sunscreens is also based on member scores.