Consumer Reports just came out with its best and worst sunscreens with Up & Up by Target and Walmart’s Equate coming up as favorites and Badger and All Terrain getting dissed to last place. Consumer Reports’ sunscreen criteria is intriguing, and it got me thinking about how different it is from mine and how my best for sun and body would look.

First, let’s take Up & Up, which we tested, reviewed and rejected a couple of years ago (it was Consumer Reports’ rave sunscreen back then as well). Its criteria are primarily the ability to block both UVA and UVB rays and whether it stains. I think one of the issues is that Consumer Reports does its testing in a lab where it is hard to reproduce conditions that can test claims of water and sweat resistance. Our tester went to the park for a day (you can read the review – streaks and all – here).

The real issue, though, is the ingredients list. Up & Up is a cocktail of controversial chemical sunscreens, including avobenzone, homosalate, oxybenzone, octisalate and otocrylene. Avobenzone has been shown to be absorbed into the body so it is not recommended for use on children or pregnant women. The same can be said for Octocrylene, while oxybenzone behaves similarly to estrogen and therefore raises concerns regarding cancer.

My sweat, water and protection tests always give a pass to MD Solar Sciences sunscreens. They do their job (no chalky streaks or need to reapply every 10 minutes) with more benign (although no sunscreen is without its issues) mineral sunscreen actives. A little of MD Solar Sciences Mineral Screen SPF50 ($34 in the shop) goes a long enough way to make it practical for body as well as face.

Talking of mineral sunscreens, Consumer Reports’ main concern is the use of nanoparticles, and it is for this that poor old Badger has been relegated (for a discontinued product, it should be noted) to the bottom of the list. Our tester of Badger’s SPF30 found the effort of rubbing it in tired his arms, but he said it worked even on a tropical beach, and Badger has moved to non-nano, uncoated zinc. Nonetheless, I’ll still be reaching for Suntegrity’s impeccably made All Natural Moisturizing Body Protection ($24 in the shop). Suntegrity uses zinc oxide particles that measure 220 nm, which is well above what is referred to as a nanoparticle (under 100 nm) and stokes its sunscreens with tons of antioxidants.

Should you inadvertently overdo the sun exposure, then CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray ($34) will do exactly what it says. This would probably sort you out if you rolled around in a bed of nettles let alone had a little heat rash to contend with. Our tester’s before and after pictures are amazing to behold.

All this sun stuff reminds me to think about prepping one’s beach body. My inner surfer is non-existent, so what I mean is getting out some choice potions and lotions. Talking of sun, my best secret weapon now has to be used only at night: Arcona Pumpkin Lotion 10%($35 in the shop). What a find this is – a body lotion with 10% glycolic that gives smoother, younger-looking skin. It is important not to overdo it and not to use anything with glycolic acids before sun exposure as this active ingredient significantly increases sensitivity to UV rays.

For firming those jiggly bits, I reach for Prana Attar Firming Body Milk ($28). Although this is a very lightweight lotion (a boon in summer, in my opinion), it leaves the skin looking supple. The anti-cellulite ingredient in Prana Attar Firming Body Milk is glaucine. As I mentioned in my recent article on cellulite and stretch mark treatments, glaucine comes from yellow poppy extract. Another beach body go-to is Osmotics Blue Copper 5 Age Repair Body Lift ($95), a veritable powerhouse with Matrixyl 3000, copper peptides and one of my amazing new find ingredients, rutin. This has plenty of research behind it demonstrating its effectiveness on broken and even varicose veins.

Of course, nothing firms like ultrasonic or EMS and for crepey skin, LED can work wonders. Take note that using a device like Ultra Renew Sculpt ($129 in the shop) that combines all these features requires the same dedication as exercise (although it has the advantage of being able to be carried out sitting down in front of the TV) – regular sessions of at least three per week. It helps for cellulite, batwing arms and, personally, I haven’t found better for combatting wrinkly knees. (See the video.)

For those stubborn areas, such as elbows and knees, I haven’t yet bettered Retrospect Feet, Knees and Elbows($38). And for hands and décolleté, I love Stemulation Rescue Repair Hand & Body Treatment ($96). For hands and, specifically, nails (dehydrated nails become ridged over time and cuticles ragged beyond repair), I am very pleased with the results I get from Retrospect Hand & Nail Reconstructor($36).

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