Clark Howard: Store-brand sunblock gets top marks

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Consumer Reports has ranked sunscreens and found that you don’t have to pay big bucks to protect your skin from harsh UV rays.

One of the highest rated sunscreens that got a Best Buy recommendation turned out to be the cheapest one per ounce they tested.

Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50, which is a Wal-Mart store brand, clinched the Best Buy trophy with a score of 94 out of 100. It costs 56 cents an ounce, the same price as last year.

Two other sunblocks scored higher in the lotion category. They were Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 and Vichy Capital Soleil 50 Light Weight Foaming Lotion. They got a 98 and 99, respectively, but you pay $1.31 per ounce for the Coppertone and $5.94 per ounce for the Vichy! Both have near or exactly the same concentration of active ingredients as the Equate.

The historical favorite in this annual tally, NO-AD Sport SPF 50, scored an 88 this year. The cost per ounce is 63 cents, which is the same as last year.

When it comes to sprays, the Best Buy check mark went to Equate again. At $1.33 per ounce, Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30 scored an 84.

I was talking with a dermatologist last week and she said the real problem is too many people apply sunscreen too sparsely. You need to put gobs of it on your kids. My kids are conditioned to know that it’s a five-minute ordeal while we slather them up before they can go out into the sun. It’s a necessary precaution — and don’t forget yourself.

Whatever sunscreen you get, be sure it says “broad spectrum” on the label for maximum protection.

Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website

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