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.
“EWG’s 2015 Sunscreen Guide rates the safety and efficacy of more than 1,000 sunscreens, more than 600 daily moisturizers and 100 lip products with SPF values. Our safety assessments are based on ingredients disclosed on product labels.”
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.
- Retinyl palmitate may trigger damage, possibly cancer.
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:
Sunscreen Hall Of Shame
EWG’s recommendations for the Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens
Quick facts on Skin Deep
Skin Deep Product and Ingredient Databases
Data sources – toxicity, regulatory, and study availability databases
Skin Deep’s Dual Rating Factors