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Consumer Reports says this is one of the best sunscreens — here's what I think

I had to see if it lived up to the hype.
Katie Jackson / TODAY

Since when did the sunscreen section get as large as the cereal aisle? There are lotions, sprays and even sticks now. I recently counted SPFs ranging from 5 to 85, all with different levels of water resistance.

As a kid, I picked out the expensive foam sunscreen that went on blue and smelled sickly sweet. Later, I leaned toward the equally-expensive clear sprays that probably didn't have enough SPF. Now, as I embrace my 30s (and my fair skin), I've decided to do what my practical parents would do: trust Consumer Reports.

Coppertone's Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion was named one of the best sunscreens of 2020 by Consumer Reports, so I had to give it a try.

Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70

I went with the SPF 70 formulation, though it's also available with SPF 50 and SPF 30.

Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

Their 2020 pick isn't colored, scented, spray-on, expensive or low enough in SPF that I'd still get a little color — but here's why that's not a bad thing.

I don't miss spots

sunscreen on arm before being absorbed
This is what the sunscreen looks like when you first apply it to your skin.Katie Jackson

Sunscreen is one of the best anti-aging products dermatologists use themselves, and it's hard to find a celebrity interview in which they don't include sunscreen as part of their beauty routine. I'm neither a doctor nor an A-lister, but after one too many painful sunburns, I swear by it too.

What I particularly like about Coppertone Ultra Guard is that it goes on white, so I can clearly see where I've applied it. Sure, sprays are easier to use, but they also make it easier to miss spots. If I want any color, I want it to be an even, healthy glow. Fortunately, that can be easily (and safely) achieved with my go-to fake tanner.

I get an excellent value

Recognition from Consumer Reports — which is completely independent and rigorously reviews thousands of products — is about the best praise a product can get. Besides that stamp of approval, this sunscreen has a 4.6-star average rating from about 200 verified reviews on Amazon.

measuring sunscreen
Coppertone recommends using 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons per application.Katie Jackson

In terms of price, it's as affordable as a major name brand gets. It's currently about $8 for an 8-ounce bottle at Walmart, making it an excellent value.

I'm armed with an "intense defense"

To say the sun is a formidable opponent is an understatement. When it comes to defending myself against the sun's harmful UV rays, the higher the SPF, the lower my chance of looking like a lobster later. With this in mind, I decided to go with the SPF 70 formula. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, this means that if it's used correctly, it would take you 70 times longer to burn than if you weren't wearing any sunscreen.

I have two hours of peace of mind

cycling in Arizona
From now on, this is the sunscreen I'll use every time I head outdoors, especially for cycling in Arizona.Katie Jackson

As a serious cyclist, I ride almost every day for about 80 minutes. Since January, I've been riding in Arizona where the sun is relentless. The great part about this sunscreen is I don't need to bring it with me to reapply mid-ride since it lasts for two hours. If I'm sweating a lot or if I were to use it while swimming, it lasts 80 minutes.

While this amount of time is pretty standard according to the American Academy of Dermatologists, I've been disappointed by past sunscreens (ahem, cheaper water-downed store brands) that don't last as long as they claim. This one actually does.

My only complaint is that the bottle doesn't have an expiration date on it. However, since most sunscreens expire within three years and I plan on using this all the time, I doubt I'll have a problem.

My skin is moisturized

sunscreen absorbed into skin
This is what my arm looks like two minutes after applying this sunscreen.Katie Jackson

Finally, what sets this sunscreen apart from others is simple. It contains added moisturizers and most importantly, vitamin E — the vitamin that is so nourishing it's used by manicurists to boost nail health. I've never met a sunscreen that could actually also double as a lotion — this one can.

When I apply it, it takes approximately two minutes before it's completely absorbed. It leaves my skin soft, but not slick with grease. Better yet, it seems to work on different skin types. I'm fair-skinned, but one reviewer on Amazon writes that it's great on darker skin and doesn't leave a lingering white residue.

So, whether you're looking for a sunscreen that won't leave you looking like a ghost, a lobster or some hybrid of the two, I highly recommend Coppertone Ultra Guard. I also recommend buying it online so you don't have to deal with the ever-growing sunscreen section. After all, the less time you spend inside, the more fun you can have outside.

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