One Third Of Sunscreens Don't Work As Labeled, So Here's What You Should Do About Sun Protection

I’m a shameless beach bunny, but after a few skin cancer scares in my family, I now rub sunscreen all over my body every single morning without thinking twice. Although I thought I was protecting myself from harmful sun rays, a recent study in Consumer Reports revealed that a third of waterproof sunscreens don't work, as their protection levels are actually inaccurate. Please excuse me while I go cry all my not-really-waterproof sunscreen off my face.

The report put 34 sunscreen lotions and sprays to the test, having participants apply the sunscreens and then chill out in water for the duration of time their labels guaranteed waterproof protection. Afterward, the participants were put under ultraviolet lights to determine whether or not the SPF was still effective. Shockingly, over 30 percent fell short of their protection claims.

Beyond the unsettling discoveries, chances are high most of us are probably applying sunscreen incorrectly anyway. Elle reached out to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., who shared how “a variety of other factors can make the SPF more ineffective ... [like] when you apply sunscreen to the skin in the presence of light, the chemical changes ... That's why I recommend very high SPF, because you can compensate somewhat when you don't apply enough."

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Even though these findings are disappointing, the study offered a list of the best 11 sunscreens for SPF protection. They also included a handy-dandy guide on how to apply sunscreen properly. Don’t let the discouraging findings keep you from enjoying the summertime sun, but do remember to take care of your skin with 7 fabulous summer hats and apply sunscreen (at least 15 to 30 minutes) before you ever step outside. And remember, tans come in bottles, too.

Images: paultarasenko/Fotolia; Giphy