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Brand name vs. generic: summer essentials

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Warmer temperatures mean you'll start spending more time outdoors, but if you're not careful you could get burned at the drugstore on three essential products you need to make it through the summer.

We put three different products to the test – sunscreen, aloe and ant spray – to see if it's really worth splurging on name brands, or if going generic will save you money without sacrificing quality.

After working for 10 years at Ocean Watersports in Myrtle Beach, Mark Green has shelled out hundreds of dollars on sunscreen and after-sun skin care products to protect himself.

"All day I hear about how awesome my job is, and it is, but the hardest part about it is the elements, like the sun," he said.

To keep a bad burn at bay, he goes through two bottles of sunscreen a week. He guns for the biggest, cheapest bottle, but we wanted to know if he's really getting protection for the price.

We disguised two bottles of Banana Boat and Walgreen's SPF 30 sunscreen to see.

After a quick lather, Mark could easily tell the difference.

"Both brands did soak in the same, but [Banana Boat] didn't spread as far," he said.

Mark said he thought the Walgreen's brand was thicker when he applied it, spread easier and felt more water-resistant.

Dr. C. Edward Weimer says that's one of three things that makes a good sunscreen.
"You need to look for a sun protection factor – SPF of 30 or greater," he explained. "You need to see the labeling that says broad spectrum coverage."

Mark says he'd pick the generic brand over name brand – and if you do too, you'll save $2.50.

Our test left Mark looking a little red, so we gave him the same brands of aloe to soothe his skin.

"It allows your skin to get a little more moisture in it, which is important when you're in the sun all day," he said. "I couldn't really tell the difference between the [Banana Boat and Walgreen's brand]."

Mark says while he couldn't tell the difference, he noticed both left a sticky feeling behind. You'll get less by going generic, but in this test, price trumps quantity. Go generic and you'll save $5.50.

Spending so much time in the sun will probably have you working up an appetite, but you don't want ants to ruin your next cookout.

If they happen to crash your party, we wanted to find out which ant spray will work best to stop the pests in their tracks.

When we tested Raid and Hot Shot, we found Raid killed the ants faster. However, our expert says that's the only thing it's good for.

"If you spray it directly on them, you're probably going to kill them," Lennie Johnson, of Lane's Professional Pest Elimination, said. "If you're looking to protect it from bugs coming into the home, this isn't going to work for you."

Johnson says it's important to look for a residual in your bug spray to keep bugs from coming back. Hot Shot has both.

If you buy Hot Shot, you'll save 69 cents.

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