Summer is just around the corner, but don't reach for your go-to sunscreen just yet.
A new study revealed that one-third of sunscreens on shelves are lying about their protection levels.
Out of the 60 sunscreen lotions, sprays and sticks tested, 23 had SPF labels that were less than what they claimed.
This means relying on certain brands to guard against the sun's rays could lead to a blistering sunburn and increase the chances of developing skin cancer.
Conducted annually by Consumer Reports, the study alerts customers to products claiming the wrong SPF levels.
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Not so sunny: Babyganics Mineral-Based Lotion SPF 50+, $10, (left) and eltaMD UV Aero Continuous Spray SPF 45, $31, (right) were the two lowest ranked sunscreens in the study. Their SPF levels were not what they claimed to be
Best rated: The Trader Joe's, $6, (left) and La Roche-Posay, $36, (right) sunscreens were the only two products to receive a perfect overall score in the study
WORST-RATED FIVE SUNSCREENS
1. Babyganics Mineral-Based Lotion SPF 50+ ($10)
2. eltaMD UV Aero Continuous Spray SPF 45 ($31)
3. CeraVe Body Lotion SPF 50 ($17)
4. All Terrain AquaSport Lotion SPF 30 ($17)
5. MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 50 ($39)
The researchers said 'natural' and mineral-based sunscreens consistently under-performed compared to their competitors.
Topping the list for sunscreens with SPF levels less than half of what they claimed was Babyganics Mineral-Based Lotion SPF 50+ ($10).
The American Academy of Pediatrics says babies should be covered up in the sun. If not, they need a high level of protection, around 30 SPF.
Babyganics' lotion is designed to allow babies to go in water for up to 80 minutes, according to the bottle.
However, when tested by Consumer Reports, they found it had an SPF of around 25 - half what it promises.
Babyganics is mineral-based just like MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 50 ($39), which also was in the bottom five of the study.
Second worst on the list was eltaMD UV Aero Continuous Spray SPF 45 ($31) followed by CeraVe Body Lotion SPF 50 ($17).
All Terrain AquaSport Lotion SPF 30 ($17) came in fourth and had the lowest SPF ranking to begin with.
This means users expecting these levels of protection were only getting half of that coverage.
SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays; SPF 30 filters out 97 percent; and SPF 50 filters out 98 percent.
The Trader Joe's and La Roche-Posay sunscreen were the only two products to receive a perfect overall score.
Another concerning study found more evidence that sunscreens labels don't always tell the whole truth.
Research by Chicago's Northwestern University in 2016, found that most popular sunscreens do not meet all the guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.
THE DEADLIEST SKIN CANCER: MELANOMA
One of the most common forms of cancer in the United States is skin cancer.
Tanning outdoors and in tanning beds can lead to contracting skin cancer, including melanoma.
Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, but they most commonly appear on the back, legs, arms and face and even underneath a nail.
Though less common, they often spread to other organs in the body, making them more deadly.
The most common sign is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
A helpful way to tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma is the ABCDE checklist:
- Asymmetrical – melanomas have two very different halves and are an irregular shape
- Border – melanomas have a notched or ragged border
- Colors – melanomas will be a mix of two or more colors
- Diameter – melanomas are often larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter
- Enlargement or elevation – a mole that changes size over time is more likely to be a melanoma
The AAD specifies that sunscreen meet three basic criteria: protects against UVA and UVB rays, has an SPF above 30, and is water-resistant.
Dr. Steve Xu, a dermatology resident at Northwestern, analyzed the top-rated one percent of Amazon.com's 6,500 sunscreens.
He tested all 65 products that had a minimum rating of four stars out of five, and a minimum of 150 reviews.
Twenty-six of those products - or 40 percent - failed to meet the three criteria.
Consumers need accurate SPF ratings to protect their skin from the sun.
SPF levels only indicate the protection a sun cream offers against UVB rays, not UVA rays. But, both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin damage and cancer.
Standing for Sun Protection Factor, these numbers are an indicator for a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging the skin.
Choosing the correct SPF level depends on the person.
Depending on people's melanin levels, some need more protection than others.
The rule of thumb is generally the lighter the skin, the greater the SPF level needed, and the darker the skin calls for a lesser level.
This may change based on skin sensitivity and a person's history of cancer, which would need a higher level SPF.
Experts advise not to forsake sunscreen, even when under the cover of a sun umbrella.
Although a parasol stops direct beams, it is no match for diffuse radiation - rays that have been scattered in all directions on their way to Earth, Texas researchers said.
Protecting the skin from the sun is essential to lessen the risk of developing skin cancer, which is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States.