Clark Howard: The best sunblock isn’t the most expensive

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHowardSunscreen doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. One brand that sells for 59 cents an ounce got a top score from Consumer Reports in the June 2012 issue. It just goes to show that you don’t have to pay big bucks to protect your skin from harsh UV rays.

The highest rated sunscreen was NO-AD (“No Advertisement,”) a practically no-name brand introduced in 1960 that “prides itself in offering twice the size product for the same price as the national brands,” according to the product’s website.

NO-AD got a score of 88 from Consumer Reports and costs only 59 cents an ounce. (In fairness, many of the sunscreens tested got ratings in the 80s, which means many of them are doing a good job protecting you. So the real question truly is cost.) To give you a comparison, a high-end, name-brand sunscreen called La Roche-Posay is $20 an ounce and scored much lower for effectiveness.

For those who prefer sprays to lotions, the highest rated spray was Walgreens Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50.

I was talking with a dermatologist last week and she said the real problem is too many people apply sunscreen too sparsely. You need to put gobs of it on your kids. My kids are conditioned to know that it’s a five-minute ordeal while we slather them up before they can go out into the sun. But don’t forget yourself, either.

If you’re like me and grew up in the generation when nobody wore sunscreen, we’re a ticking time bomb for skin cancer and melanoma. In many cases, early skin cancer detected is just a little aggravation that’s easily treatable. But undetected, it can grow into melanoma and cost you your life.

Keep that in mind before you hit the pool, beach or outdoors this summer.

-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs

Find more answers to your consumer questions at You can also listen to his radio show live Monday through Friday 1-3 p.m. on AM 750 and NOW 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.

4 comments Add your comment


June 28th, 2012
5:24 am

dear lauren,

with this much direct quoting of the original author—not to mention his head shot—it seems that an actual hyperlink to the original story would be in order. your thoughts?

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July 1st, 2012
2:58 pm


July 3rd, 2012
10:09 am

I went to Walmarks this past weekend and bought some of the No-AD sunscreen. it was a really good deal considering that you get 16 oz of sunscreen for approximately the same price as the brand name sunscreens that come in 8 oz bottles. I found that the No-AD went on smoothly and worked well. I did not like how upon reapplication the sunscreen seemed to start coming off in gross little clumps. This is enough for me to return this item. Yuck.