Just like other skin care products, all sunscreens are NOT created equal! Growing up there was a single factor that determined the rank of sunscreen; the higher the SPF, the greater the sunscreen… right?
Not according to the extensive research done by EWG (Environmental Working Group). EWG’s research has discovered that some sunscreens have several serious problems. They are pressing the federal Food and Drug Administration to issue rules that address these deficiencies. In the meantime, EWG and the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database have made it their mission to create online safety profiles for cosmetics and personal care products. Their aim is to fill in where industry and government leave off. In doing this, they have created a guide that aims to help consumers make good choices and avoid sun damage and cancer.
“Since 2007, when EWG published its first Sunscreen Guide, many sun protection products sold in the U.S. are safer and federal regulators have cracked down on some of the worst phony marketing claims. But our investigation of more than 880 beach and sport sunscreens, 480 moisturizers and 120 lip products with SPF for our 11th annual guide found that serious concerns remain.
Almost three-fourths of the products we examined offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may harm skin. And despite scant evidence, the government still allows most sunscreens to claim they help prevent skin cancer.”
Each sunscreen brand and individual formula is given a ranking according to the hazards it presents. The lower the ranking, the better the sunscreen. Each product’s score ranges from 0-10 and reflects both the degree of UV protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and the safety of all ingredients on the label. A product with a score between 0-2 is considered a low risk sunscreen. A ranking of 3-6 puts the sunscreen at a moderate risk level while a ranking of 7-10 awards the sunscreen a high risk warning.
The four factors that raise particular concern when raking the hazard level of a sunscreen are:
- Spray sunscreens can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.
- SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage but SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.
- Oxybenzone can disrupt the hormone system especially in children and pregnant or nursing women.
- Retinyl palmitate A study by U.S. government scientists suggests that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight (NTP 2012).
So, be sure to read the active ingredients on your bottle of screen before lathering up this summer! Better yet, visit the EWG Sunscreen Guide website and find out how your sunscreen ranks.
Check out these other links from EWG and Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for more skin safety tips and information:
Best Beach & Sport Sunscreens 2017
Best Scoring Kids Sunscreens 2017
Worst Scoring Kids Sunscreens 2017
Best Moisturizers With SPF 2017
Bug Repellent Guide 2017
Quick facts on Skin Deep
Skin Deep Product and Ingredient Databases
Data sources – toxicity, regulatory, and study availability databases