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May 24, 2013 9:29 PM by John Patrick

All sunscreens not created equal

TUCSON - You don't need an expensive sunscreen to soak up the rays this holiday weekend so before you lather on the lotion know what you're getting.

Bunnie Moss is one Arizonan who has dealt with the harmful effects of the sun first hand and realizes the importance of wearing the right sunscreen.

"I've already had skin cancer on my face so it is important. It's painful and expensive to get fixed," explains Moss.

Moss says her skin as damaged at a young age and dermatologists will agree babies as young as six months should be protected with sunscreen.

Dr. Robert Segal, with Dermatology Center in Tucson, says it doesn't take long for the intense Tucson sun to fry your skin. In fact, someone with fair skin can burn in as little as nine minutes of exposure.

Even with the intense Arizona sun you don't need the highest SPF. Experts say that an SPF of 30 to 50 should be sufficient with virtually no added benefit of an SPF 70 or greater.

"Here a 30 SPF is all you need. If you put it on thick and heavy one time during the day a 30 SPF will protect you from the sun," Dr. Segal explains.

The best sunscreens are "broad spectrum" meaning they protect you from both U-V-A and U-V-B rays. Dr. Segal says it's the U-V-B rays that can lead to skin cancer and the U-V-A rays that go deeper and burn the skin.

The most expensive lotions don't necessarily mean the best protection from those harmful rays. According to Consumer Reports' annual sun survey some of the most effective sunscreens are often the least expensive.

Dr. Segal says, "Price does not matter when it comes to sunscreen. Some of the least expensive sunscreens are just as good as the most expensive."

Consumer Reports' ranks three of the top four most effective sunscreens as generic brands from Target, Wal-Mart and Walgreens. Find the full report by clicking here.

Sunscreen will not block all of the sun's harmful rays so dermatologists suggest wearing light covering clothes, hats and sunglasses. For more information on sunscreen visit the American Academy of Dermatology.

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