As a woman of Italian-Irish heritage, it has vexed me all of my life that I inherited very few of the Mediterranean characteristics (olive skin & super dark eyes, the ability to tan--like my sister Carmela), but almost all of the Gaelic ones (pale skin covered with freckles, burn baby burn!). This was particularly troublesome as a kid who loved swimming in the summertime. Sunburn and I were on a first-name basis from May through August every year!

Back when we were kids, a sunburn was just a painful reminder of a fun day in the great outdoors. It wasn't until much later that overexposure to our giant gas ball proved to be the danger that it is. Thankfully, advances in science and medicine have made it possible for us to survive and even thrive in the hot and not-so-hot summer sun.

Consumer Reports is out with their list of best sunscreens for this summer and it really is all good news. You can get extraordinary sun protection and spend very little money doing it. With the exception of the number one rated product (again this year) - La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk - $36 (very shishi poo poo) - all of the top ten recommended lotion sunscreens were $15 or less, as were the 4 top-rated sprays and sometimes, much less!

The products they recommend are rated by testing UVA ray (tan, age, trigger skin cancer) and UVB radiation (main cause of sunburn & contributor to skin cancer) protection. They make it clear that you cannot always rely on the SPF (sun protection factor) number listed by manufacturers.

In fact, after testing 82 lotions, sprays, sticks, and lip balms, they discovered that 34 of them gave less than half of the protection indicated. These are the top 5 (recommended for protection and price) products, for the least money in the lotion and spray categories:

  1. Bull Frog Land Sport Quik Gel SPF 50
  2. Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70
  3. Equate (Walmart) Ultra Lotion SPF 50
  4. Trader Joe's Spray SPF 50+
  5. Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Spray SPF 50+

For more complete information and recommendations see Consumer Reports.

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