TODAY   |  May 24, 2013

Rossen Reports: Are sunscreens really protecting?

Before you head out on your summer beach trips, NBC’s Jeff Rossen has the scoop on which sunscreen brands are most effective, and the ratings may surprise you.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> will be on the shopping list of a lot of people on this holiday weekend but is your sunscreen giving you the protection it promises? jeff rossen is here with surprising information. good morning.

>> positive thinking. we're going to lose these jackets soon i'm convinced of it. lot of us heading to the beach this weekend, heading to the stores today to buy sunscreen. if you think the most expensive brands work best, think again. the new sunscreen ratings are out this morning, and we have the results. i'm gonna soak up the sun

>> reporter: this weekend sunbathers will hit the beach and so will the kids. before you slather on that lotion, "consumer reports" tests 12 sunscreens. is the spf on the bottle actually what you're getting?

>> you want to buy the best for your kids.

>> reporter: the highest number?

>> the highest number.

>> reporter: researchers found some of the least expensive sunscreens scored the best including coppertone and hawaiian tropic . even these generic store brands from walmart, walgreens and target all deliver the protection their labels promised, all recommended by the magazine.

>> we found six that are really good at protecting against uva and uvb rays and affordable price.

>> reporter: those sunscreens beat out products from california baby, no-ad, neutrogena and kiss my face. badger and all terrain were some of the most expensive and scored the lowest.

>> you can't always rely on the spf number. couple didn't meet their spf claims.

>> reporter: the companies say their spfs are accurate tested by independent labs and meet or exceed fda guidelines. badger and all terrain question "consumer's" findings. what about the ultrahigh spfs, 800 or 100? is that worth buying? some doctors say no extra protection at all. what do you make of spfs over 50.

>> i say it's useless, save your money and stick with the 30 to 50 plus.

>> here are more tips for you if your sunscreen says waterproof or water resistant like this one does, experts say that's not necessarily the case. it does wash off. you should reapply especially on children at least every hour and the other thing is that sunscreen goes bad after two years so look for the expiration date on your bottle. if you're like me you use last year and the year's before. if you can't find the expiration date chuck it and find a new bottle.