To choose the best cheap sun cream, understand the different types of ingredients used in the cream, and find one that contains quality ingredients but is priced affordably. It should be possible to find store brand or generic sun creams that contain the same active ingredients as pricier brand-name formulas. The difference is most often in the packaging and possibly fragrance.
Look for a cheap sun cream that contains more than one active ingredient. Each active ingredient has strong and weak points, and selecting a lotion that contains several active ingredients increases the odds that the cream will stay on, be water resistant, and effectively block the sun's rays. Becoming familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of various sun protection ingredients makes it easier to recognize which cheap sun cream is likely to be effective.
Avobenzone, or Parsol 1789, effectively block UVA rays. It does not block UVB rays, however. Although avobenzone does an excellent job of blocking UVA rays, it breaks down quickly when exposed to sunlight. Combining it with some of the chemicals used to absorb UVB rays make it more stable, and increases the amount of time it provides protection.
Oxybenzone does a good job of blocking both UVA and UVB rays. It does have drawbacks, however. Oxybenzone can lead to skin irritation, and is not water resistant. Oxybenzone is the most common ingredient responsible for skin irritation in sunscreens. Anyone experiencing skin irritation from using a cheap skin cream may want to check for oxybenzone rather than assuming the issue is with inexpensive fragrance or filler.
Other ingredients that block UVA rays include meradimate and ecamsule. Sun creams that block UVB rays include octyl, dimethyl, paba, and aminobenzoic acid. Dioxybenzone blocks both UVA and UVB rays. To effectively protect the skin, the cheap sun cream must contain ingredients that block both UVA and UVB rays. In the past, UVA rays alone were blamed for sun damage, but it is now known that both UVA and UVB rays cause sun damage.
In addition to chemicals that absorb the sun ray's to prevent damage, there are some ingredients that form physical protection from the sun. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, for instance, both provide a physical block that protects the skin from the sun. These ingredients are typically non-irritating; however, if they are not rubbed in well they will leave a white cast on the skin. A cheap sun cream that contains both physical and chemical barriers will provide the most well rounded protection for skin.