Basically, sunscreens are improving but three of five brand-name products either don’t protect the skin from sun damage sufficiently, contain hazardous chemicals, or both.
“I’d give the industry a C minus,” says Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president for research. “They have moved from a D to a C-minus in my book.” Overall, however, she says the industry is “not doing enough to protect consumers from UVA radiation.”
This year’s report is the third annual from EWG, which investigated 1,572 sunscreens, lip balms, and daily moisturizers with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, typically the minimum recommended. To type in your brand and see how it rates visit: http://www.ewg.org/cosmetics/report/sunscreen09
Among the failings of the sunscreen products and industry, according to EWG:
-Only 5% of products overall met their criteria for safety and sunscreen effectiveness — and that includes blocking UVA and UVB, maintaining stability, and having no or few ingredients with health hazards.
-Product claims are overstated, promising such things as “all day” protection.
-Many spray and powder products contain tiny “nano-scale” ingredients that could be absorbed more easily in the lungs and cause problems.
After digging around their site a bit we found our favorite brand, the California Baby Stick Sunblock, has one of the highest ratings for coverage and safety. You can find their products at Target.
Scientists from EWG developed a “best” list for sunscreens, lip balms, and moisturizers (the full list is here):
On the 10 best sunscreens list (many sold online):
Soleo Organics Sunscreen Organic chemical-free sunscreen, SPF 30+
Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30
UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Mexitan Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40
California Baby Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance, SPF 30+
Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+
Kabana Skin Care Green Screen Organic Sunscreen, SPF 22, Skin Tone Tinted
Obagi Nu-Derm Physical UV Block, SPF 32
Elta MD UV Physical, SPF 41.
On the top 10 lip balm list:
Fallene cotz LipCotz, Ultra High Sun Protection, SPF 45
Jane Iredale LipDrink, SPF 15
Badger Lip Balm, SPF 15
Caribbean Blue-natural basics Lip Shield, SPF 15
Shady Day Shady Kiss Lip Balm, SPF 30
Bare Escentuals Lip Guard, SPF 15
Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Lip Butter, SPF 15, Pure Vanilla, SPF 15
Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm Lemon & Chamomile, SPF 25
Rx Suncare Lip Balm Sunblock, SPF 45
Crabtree & Evelyn Naturals Protective Lip Balm, SPF 8, Cocoa butter & Cardamom
And the top 10 SPF moisturizers, according to EWG:
Keys Soap Solar Rx Cosmetic Moisturizing sunblock, SPF 30
Marie Veronique Organics Crème de Jour Tinted, SPF 30,no nanoparticles
Devita International Daily Solar Protective Moisturizer 30
SanRe Organic Skinfood Supple Sunshine, Organic Rosemary and Lavender Day Creme (Dry to Normal), SPF 30
Lotus Moon Sage Sun Protective Crème, SPF 25
Institut Dermed Sun Protective Cream Oil Free, Untinted, SPF 28
N.V. Perricone M.D., Targeted Care Solar Protection Face with DMAE, SPF 26
Sue Devitt Promarine Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 30, Capri
Sun Science Organic Daily Wear, SPF 30
Karen’s Botanical Lovely Lavender Cream, SPF 15
Among the 339 sunscreens not recommended are:
Coppertone NutraShield, Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock, SPF 30
Huggies Little Swimmers Sunscreen, Moisturizing Blue Melon Splash
Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas: Complete Block Spray, SPF 26
CVS Sport Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30
And don’t forget to use ENOUGH of the product! Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15-30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors. When using sunscreen, be sure to apply it to all exposed areas and pay particular attention to the face, ears, hands and arms. Coat the skin liberally and rub it in thoroughly – most people apply only 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly. Don’t forget that lips get sunburned too, so apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
Sunscreens should be re-applied at least every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily. Even so-called “water-resistant” sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 40 minutes in the water. Sunscreens rub off as well as wash off, so if you’ve towel-dried, reapply sunscreen for continued protection.