Does the Cost of Sunscreen Make a Difference?

This article, entitled Top 2013 Sunscreens…Does Cost Make A Difference? comes from partner site

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million cases of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed a year in the United States. This year, more than 76,000 people will learn they have the most deadly skin cancer, melanoma.

One way you can protect yourself against the sun’s harmful rays is by using sunscreen but there are so many on the market, which ones really work?

As I started to research sunscreens, the first thing I noticed is that there are a ton of “best sunscreen” articles and they vary quite a bit as to their recommendations. One article listed their favorite sunscreen (that was VERY expensive at over $30), while another named that very same one as the worst. Of course I can’t test each sunscreen personally since I don’t have my very own lab (and I wouldn’t know what to do even if I did have one in my house!) so I based my list from an article on Web MD based on Consumer Report’s 2013 recommendations.

This was one of the few articles I found that actually tested sunscreens versus just naming “faves”. I found that a lot of articles from women’s magazines listed their sunscreen picks based on how they felt and smelled, which didn’t really tell me how well they protected your skin. If they aren’t actually protecting you from the sun’s harmful rays, you might as well just put lotion and perfume on to smell and feel good.

Consumer Reports based their report on sunscreens tested in the lab and on people using a sun simulator. Testers were observed for sunburn to gauge UVB effectiveness and were observed for tanning to evaluate UVA protection. Consumer Reports took popular products from a variety of stores and took into account protection from UVA and UVB, the price, and how much it stained clothing. Then they announced their top 6 favorites and the 6 least effective.

The good news is that the top two sunscreens they named were two of the least expensive! Which means, even if you’re on a budget, you can afford to protect your skin. Included in the list below is the AVERAGE price per ounce, depending on your area and sales, prices may vary a bit.


  1. Target’s Up & Up Sport won top honors (which it has for several years in a row). Cost per ounce $1.16.

  2. Walmart’s Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 won Consumer Reports Best Buy award out of all the sunscreens tested. Cost per ounce 47 cents.

  3. Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50. Cost per ounce $1.38.

  4. Walgreens Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50. Cost per ounce $1.33.
  5. Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch SPF 30. Cost per ounce $1.38.
  6. Coppertone Sport High Performance SPF 30. Cost per ounce $1.67.

I personally love the fact that all six of these sunscreens can be easily found at stores available in most areas like Target, Walmart and Walgreens.


  1. California Baby SPF 30. Cost per ounce $6.90. (This has been discontinued but is still available at stores.)

  2. No-Ad with Avobenzone, Aloe and Vitamin E SPF 45. Cost per ounce 63 cents.

  3. Neutrogena Wet Skin SPF 45+. Cost per ounce $3.67.

  4. Kiss My Face with Hydresia SPF 40. Cost per ounce $5.32.

  5. Badger Unscented SPF 34. Cost per ounce $5.52. (This has been discontinued too but is still available at stores.)

  6. All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30. Cost per ounce $4.33.

I find it interesting that the majority of not recommended sunscreens are actually twice as expensive as the recommended ones.


If you don’t apply your sunscreen correctly, it’s not going to be as effective in protecting you from the sun’s rays. Here’s 6 tips to boost protection.

  • Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes BEFORE going outside.

  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.

  • When using sunscreen spray, spray twice to make sure you don’t miss any spots.

  • Wear protective clothing, which includes hats and sunglasses.

  • Don’t store sunscreen in your hot car since that can make it less effective.

  • Check the expiration date on your sunscreen. Expired products also lose their effectiveness.

When applying sunscreen make sure you remember the back of your legs, the tips of your ears, and if you have a bald spot on your head, get that covered too.

According to Nicole Sarrubbo, associate editor for Consumer Reports, they won’t recommend sunscreen sprays for kids until the FDA releases the results of an ongoing study about the effect of inhaling sprays.

It’s highly recommended you avoid the sun between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon but realistically, isn’t that when most kids are outside playing, you’re gardening, or at the pool? Just be cautious, apply sunscreen and apply it as recommended.

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