After Consumer Reports tested the ability of 22 sprays, creams and lotions to protect against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation Target’s Up & Up’s Sport Continuous SPF 30 brand not only was the best deal on the market, but also won top honor for the all important effectiveness.

In a change from previous years, the new report warns that ingredients contained in many of the sunscreens have been associated with adverse health effects in animals. Seven of the 22 sunscreens tested by the magazine contain retinyl palmitate, an antioxidant that animal studies have linked to an increased risk of skin cancers. The ingredient also readily converts to retinoids, which are found in some acne medications and which studies have linked with the risk of birth defects.

Retinyl palmitate is an ingredient found in many sunscreens and skin products. It’s a form of Vitamin A that over the years has been shown to be very beneficial to the skin. Now, studies are showing otherwise. The FDA released a study about the effects of retinyl palmitate on the skin, using mice as their test subjects. Their findings suggest that RP stimulates lesion and tumor growth when in direct sunlight.

Many of the sunblocks also contain endocrine disrupters, such as oxybenzone. These substances can interfere with sex hormones and might have an impact on sexual development and reproduction. Endocrine disruptors are substances that interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for development, behavior, fertility, and maintenance of homeostasis (normal cell metabolism).

In addition, sometimes you don’t get what you pay for and brand names can be misleading. Neutrogena spray and lotion scored among the lowest in two SPF categories, with a poor rating for staining and a fair score for ultraviolet protection.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 40 had a lower overall score than cheaper competitors that contain with Aloe and Vitamin E SPF 45, and cost an average of 60 cents per ounce. La Roche’s comes in at $18.82 per ounce!

Banana Boat Sport Performance SPF 30, Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof SPF 30 and CVS Fast Cover Sport SPF 30 all won top marks for blockage effectiveness.

Jamie Hirsh, a senior associate editor at Consumer Reports comments:

“The studies are ongoing and at this point we believe that the well established benefits of protecting against the sun outweigh the risks. A lot of the research is preliminary and right now there are just animal studies.”

Dr. David Beynet, an instructor in the division of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles adds:

“Right now there isn’t a lot of data on these chemicals and harmful effects, and so there’s a grey area. It’s scarier when it comes to kids. They’re absorbing all these chemicals and we don’t know what’s happening. So you should avoid the sun when you can and when you can’t use sunscreen. Every day I see skin cancers that are terrible. So, you need to protect against that.”

Sources: Consumer Reports and The U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Written by Sy Kraft