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We've consulted several beauty and makeup experts as well as pored through user ratings on e-commerce sites like Macy's, CVS, Amazon as well as review sites like TotalBeauty and Reviews.com to make sure that we included as much information as we could. When we looked at e-commerce reviews, there was specific criteria that we looked for including; number of reviews, were the reviews skewed "oddly" and whether the comments had specific comments beyond "good product".
Once we had our expert and consumer list, we did want to do some of our own testing, so we had our testers apply the 'semi-finalists' and just go through an ordinary day. We didn't do any extreme testing like how the products worked if you were outside in a hurricane, but we wanted to see what normal wear would produce.
When looking for sunscreen, you want to first and foremost not get sunburned, or you will want to tan, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. The next thing you'll want to understand is what the packaging means. One of the main selling points of sunscreens is the SPF. The SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measure of how well the sunscreen will protect you from UVB rays. UVB rays are the radiation rays that not only cause sunburn but can damage your skin and can even contribute to skin cancer.
The SPF scale is not linear and can be a bit confusing. A typical SPF 15 will block about 93% of UVB rays. SPF 30 will block 97% and SPF 50 will block 98% of UVB rays. So the SPF 50 gives you 5% more protection as compared to the SPF 15. The radiation that does pass through the sunscreen, come through as photons. So, if you flip things around, the SPF 50 allows 2 out of 100 photons through to your skin and the SPF 15 allows 7. So the SPF 50 blocks over 3 times the amount of radiation that gets through to your skin.
Some studies have indicated that some of the chemicals in some sun screens can be harmful. The chemicals that you should try to avoid include retinyl palmitate, retinol and oxybenzone as these chemicals can be harmful according to EWG, the Environmental Working Group.