Sun Safety 2012: Best Sunscreens and Those to Avoid

Sun Safety 2012: Best Sunscreens and Those to Avoid

Alisa Opar
Published: 05/30/2012


Photo: Loren Sztajer/CC BY-ND 2.0

UPDATE: Click here for the 2013 Sunscreen Guide. 

Amid the barbeques, trips to the beach or lake, baseball games, birding, and various other reasons to head outdoors as summer nears, thoughts of protecting your skin from the sun can easily fall to the wayside. Here are some tips to prevent getting fried, and your guide to safe sunscreens, and those to avoid (scroll down for the list).
 
The EPA and FDA recommend limiting your time in the sun, especially from 10-2 when UV rays are strongest. Cover up whenever possible. Use water resistant sunscreen when swimming or exerting yourself. And this one is key: REAPPLY. Specifically, the EPA recommends:

Generously apply sunscreen: about one ounce to cover all exposed skin 20 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and provide protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

Easy enough. More difficult is choosing a sunscreen from the gobs of products on supermarket shelves. Environmental Working Group aims to make the process easier for consumers with its 2012 sunscreen guide. For a list of what the non-profit deems to be the most effective, least harmful products—and those to avoid—scroll down. For the info on the go, download the app here.
 
A word on labels: Starting December 2012, new FDA rules will prohibit companies from putting the terms “sweatproof,” “sunblock,” and “waterproof” on sunscreen labels because there's no such thing. Products that advertise “broad spectrum protection” must pass an FDA test. The agency is also considering restricting SPF ratings to no higher than “SPF 50+.“
 
The group also evaluated cosmetics that promise to shield you from the sun:
 
-Best lip balms with SPF
-Best moisturizers with SPF
-Best makeup with SPF
 
Now on to the sunscreens!
 
Top-rated Sunscreens
(All earned a ‘1’ or a ‘2’ from EWG, which scores products on a scale of 1 to 10: 0-2 is low hazard; 3-6 is moderate hazard; 7-10 is high hazard.)
 
Adorable Baby
Clear Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
Clear Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30+
 
Alba Botanica
Natural Very Emollient Sunblock, Kids Mineral Protection, SPF 30
Natural Very Emollient Sunblock, Fragrance Free, SPF 30
 
All Terrain
TerraSport Face Stick Skin Protectant, SPF 28
KidSport Sunscreen Stick Skin Protectant, SPF 28
AquaSport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 28
KidSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
KidSport Phineas & Ferb Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
TerraSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 15
TerraSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
AquaSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 15
AquaSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
AquaSport No Slip Dry Grip Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
Aubrey Organics
Natural Sun Green Tea Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Natural Sun Sports Stick Unscented Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Natural Sun Unscented Sensitive Skin/Children Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Natural Sun Active Lifestyles Tropical Scent, SPF 30+
Natural Sun Saving Face Sunscreen, SPF 15
 
Aveeno
Baby Natural Protection MineralBlock Face Stick, SPF 50+
 
BabyGanics
Cover Up Baby Sunscreen for Face & Body, Fragrance Free, SPF 50+
Cover Up Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50
Cover Up Baby Sunscreen Moisturizing Lotion, SPF 50
 
babyUV/kidsUV inc.
KidsUV Natural Sunscreen, Blue, SPF 30
KidsUV Natural Sunscreen, Pink, SPF 30
 
Badger
Lightly Scented Lavender Sunscreen, SPF 30
Baby Sunscreen, Chamomile & Calendula, SPF 30+
Broad Spectrum Sport Sunscreen, SPF 35
Lightly Scented Lavender Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Sunscreen For Face & Body, SPF 30
Unscented Sunscreen All Season Face Stick, SPF 30+
Unscented Sunscreen, SPF 30+
All-Season Face Stick, SPF 35
Sport Sunscreen, SPF 35
Chamomile Baby Sunscreen, SPF 34
Sunscreen, Lavender, SPF 34
Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 34
Sunscreen Lotion, Aloe Vera, SPF 16
All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 15
Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 16
Lightly Scented Lavender Sunscreen, SPF 15
Sunscreen, Lavender, SPF 18
 
Beyond Coastal
Kids Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
 
Blue Lizard
Australian Sunscreen, Face, SPF 30+
 
BurnOut
Kids Physical Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Ocean Tested Physical Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Clean and Clear Zinc Oxide Sunblock, SPF 32
 
Burt's Bees
Baby Bee Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
 
California Baby
Everyday/Year-round Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
No Fragrance Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
Face & Body Sunscreen Lotion, No Fragrance, SPF 30+
Everyday/Year-Round Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
Summer Blend Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
Super Sensitive No Fragrance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
 
Caribbean Solutions
Sol Kid Kare Biodegradable Sunscreen, SPF 25
 
Climb On!
Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
Color Me Pink
Baby UV/ Kids UV 100% Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
COOLA
Plant UV Body Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30
Suncare Face Plant UV Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30
MineralBaby Moisturizer Suncare, Unscented, SPF 45
Suncare Baby Unscented Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50
 
Coppertone
Sensitive Skin Faces Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Kids Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Water Babies Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
 
Desert Essence
Organics Age Reversal Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
DO Naturals
Dolphin Organics Naturals Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 32
 
Dr. Robin For Kids
Sunscreen for Children, SPF 30+
 
Earth's Best
Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
Organic Sunblock, Chemical Free, SPF 30+
 
ECO logical skin care
Baby All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Body All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Face All Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
 
Elemental Herbs
Sunstick Zinc Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30
Sunscreen, Kids, SPF 30
Sunscreen, Sport, SPF 30+
Sunstick Zinc Sunscreen, Coconut, SPF 30
 
EltaMD
UV Pure Broad-Spectrum, SPF 47
UV Physical Broad-Spectrum, SPF 41
 
Episencial
Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 35
Sunny Sunscreen, SPF 35
 
Erbaviva
Natural Sunscreen for Children & Adults, SPF 15
 
Fallene

Cotz 20% Zinc Oxide Vanishing Formula Pure Mineral Sun Protection, SPF 35
Cotz Face Water Resistant Sun Protection, SPF 40
 
Glory
For Girls All The Time Sun Screen, SPF 30
 
Goddess Garden
Baby Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
Facial Sunscreen, SPF 30
Kid's Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
 
Hara Body Care
Hara Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
Healing-Scents
Live Long Mineral-Based Sunscreen, SPF 25
 
Jason Natural Cosmetics
Sunbrellas Mineral Natural Sunblock, SPF 30
Pure Natural Sun: Mineral Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
JOHN MASTERS ORGANICS

Natural Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
Kabana Skin Care
Green Screen Organic Sunscreen, Tinted, SPF 22
Green Screen Organic Sunscreen Original, SPF 20
 
Karen's Botanicals
Simple Sun Block, Unscented, SPF 30
 
Kiss My Face
Kids 100% Natural Mineral Sunblock SunStick, (Blue, Pink, or White) SPF 30
Natural Mineral Sunscreen with Hydresia, SPF 40
Kids Natural Mineral Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30
 
La Roche-Posay
Anthelios 40 Sunscreen Cream, SPF 40

LaVanila Laboratories
The Healthy Sun Screen Body Cream, SPF 30
The Healthy Baby Block, SPF 40
The Healthy Sun Screen Face Cream, SPF 40
 
Little Forest
Sunscreen Lotion For Babies and Kids, SPF 30+
 
Loving Naturals
Clear Face Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Clear Body Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
 
Marie Veronique Organics

Kid Safe Screen, SPF 25+
 
Maui Natural Organics
All Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Surfer Honey Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
MDSolarSciences
MD Solarsciences Natural Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 40+
MD Solarsciences Mineral Screen Gel, SPF 30+
MD Solarsciences Mineral Screen Lotion, SPF 40+
MD Solarsciences Mineral Screen Tinted Gel, SPF 30+
MD Solarsciences Ultra Mineral Screen Gel, SPF 50+
 
Mustela
High Protection Sun Lotion, Bebe/Enfant, SPF 50
Sun Cream for Sensitive Areas, Bebe/Enfant, SPF 50
 
Nature's Gate

Aqua Block Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
 
Own
Active Sun Ball Sun Block, SPF 30
Invisible Face and Body Block Lotion, SPF 30
 
Poofy Organics
The Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
The Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
Purple Prairie Botanicals
SunStick Mineral Stick, SPF 30
SunStuff Mineral Lotion, SPF 30
 
Raw Elements USA
ECO FORMULA, SPF 30+
ECO STICK, SPF 30+
 
Releve' Organic Skincare
by Emerald Essentials Sun-Lite Sunscreen, SPF 20
 
Seventh Generation
Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
Smart Kids who Play
Face Stick, SPF 30+
 
Solar Sense
Zany Zinc Colored Sunscreen (Blue, Pink, or Yellow) SPF 50

Solbar
Shield Sunscreen, SPF 40
 
Soleil Organique
Soleil Organique 100% Mineral Sunblock for Face, SPF 45
Soleil Organique 100% Mineral Sunblock for Body, SPF 45
 
Star Naturals
Baby Natural Sunscreen Stick, SPF 25
Natural Sunscreen Stick, SPF 25
 
Sun Bunnies
100% All Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
 
Sunbow
Dora the Explorer Sunscreen, Pink, SPF 30
SpongeBob Square Pants Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
Sunology
Natural Sunblock Creme for Kids, SPF 50
Sport Stick, SPF 35
Lotion for Body, SPF 50
 
Suntegrity Skincare
Baby Natural Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
Natural Mineral Sunscreen For Body, SPF 30
All Natural Moisturizing Body Protection, SPF 30
5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen, Tinted (Light), SPF 30
5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen, Tinted (Medium), SPF 30
 
sunumbra
Natural sunscreen with organic ingredients, SPF 30+
sunkids Natural sunscreen with organic ingredients, SPF 40+
 
Supergoop!
Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Day Cream, SPF 50

Sweetsation Therapy
Sun*Si'Belle+ Organic Triple Action Moisturizing Sunscreen, SPF 50+
Sun*Si'Belle Organic Triple Action Moisturizing Sunscreen, Scent-Free, SPF 30+
Sun*Si'Belle Organic Triple Action Moisturizing Sunscreen, Tinted, SPF 30+
Sun'n'Fun Organic Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
The Honest Company
Sunscreen, SPF 20
 
thinkbaby
Sunscreen Benefiting Livestrong, SPF 50+
 
thinksport
Kids Sunscreen Benefiting Livestrong, SPF 50+
Livestrong Sunscreen, SPF 50+
Sunscreen Benefiting Livestrong, SPF 50+
 
Tropical Sands
Face Stick, SPF 30
Sunscreen, SPF 50
Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
TruBaby
Water & Play Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Everyday Play Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30+
 
True Natural Cosmetics
All Natural Active Sunscreen, SPF 40
True Natural Broad Spectrum Baby & Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
True Natural Face & Sensitive Skin Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 50
True Natural All Natural Sunscreen, Active, SPF 40
 
Trukid
Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30+
New Sunny Days Mineral All Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
Sunny Days Face & Body Stick Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Sunny Days Mineral Sunscreen Face and Body Stick, SPF 30+
 
TruVillage
SafeSun Naturals Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
SafeSun Naturals Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
 
UV Natural
Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
 
Vanicream
Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 35
Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
 
VMV Hypoallergenics
Armada Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50+
 
WOTNOT
Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
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Non-mineral Sunscreens
(None received EWG’s top rating, as they all contain at least one chemical “considered to be a potential hormone disruptor.” All scored between 2 and 5.)
 
Australian Gold
Sheer Coverage Lotion with InvisiDry, SPF 15
 
Beyond Coastal
Active Face Stick Sunscreen, SPF 30
Daily Active Sunscreen, SPF 30
Active Sunscreen, SPF 15
 
Bull Frog

Water Armor Sport Face Lotion Sunblock, SPF 30
Ultimate Sheer Protection, Body, SPF 30
Ultimate Sheer Protection, Face, SPF 30
 
COOLA
Suncare Sport Classic Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 45
Suncare Body Classic Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30
 
Coppertone
Oil Free Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 15
Sport High Performance Ultra Sweatproof Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
UltraGuard Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 15
Sport Ultra Sweatproof Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 15
 
NIA24
Sun Damage Prevention UVA/UVB Sunscreen, SPF 30
 
Ocean Potion
Suncare Anti Skin Aging Quick Dry Lotion, SPF 15
Suncare Sunblock Lotion, Anti-Aging Quick Dry, SPF 50+
Suncare Anti Skin Aging Face Potion Daily Lotion, SPF 45
 
Sunbow
Sunscreen Stick, SpongeBob Square Pants, SPF 45
Dora the Explorer Pink Sunscreen Stick, SPF 45
 
Vichy
Laboratoires LiftActiv Retinol HA Day Sunscreen, SPF 18
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9 products EWG says typify what’s wrong with sunscreens
 
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+ – 6% oxybenzone
Why: One of 65 sunscreens for kids/babies that contains oxybenzone, a synthetic chemical that’s a suspected hormone disruptor and can cause allergic reactions.
 
Banana Boat Baby Tear Free Sunblock Lotion, SPF 50+
Why: Contains retinyl palmitate, a derivative of vitamin A that may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.
  
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunblock Stick, SPF 70
Why: Under new FDA regulations, companies will no longer be allowed to label their products higher than SPF 50 because while they may protect from sunburn caused largely by UVB rays, they leave people vulnerable to UVA rays, which can damage skin and possibly increase a person's risk of skin cancer.
  
CVS Kids Fast Cover Continuous Clear Spray, SPF 50
Why: Spray sunscreens not only make it easy to miss a spot, there are also growing concerns that they may damage lungs, which is why the FDA will soon require that they carry labels with warnings including “use in well ventilated area.”
 
GO!screen Natural Mineral PowderBlock Brush-On Sunscreen, SPF 30
Why: “Some brands of loose powder sunscreens contain particles of titanium dioxide, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” when inhaled. Powdered sunscreens may also contain nanoscale and micronized zinc oxide, which can cause lung inflammation and worse,” says EWG’s website. Instead, the group recommends using creams or lotions.
 
Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Why: No different from adult sunscreen. EWG found 16 brands in this season’s crop whose products labeled as baby sunscreens list the exact same ingredients—and amounts—as adult sunscreens.
 
Baby Blanket SunBlankie Towelette SPF 45+

Why: EWG says, “In its 2011 sunscreen rules, FDA says it doesn’t have data to know if wipes are safe and effective sunscreens.”
 
Lavera Baby & Children Sun Screen, Medium, SPF 20
Why: While the front of the box claims the sunscreen is “effective immediately,” the side panel warns “apply… 15 minutes before sun exposure.” EWG recommends skipping the claims on the front of the box and instead following the directions and heeding warnings.
 
La Prairie Cellular Radiance Emulsion, SPF 30
Why: Pricier isn’t always better. This product retails for $267 per fluid ounce. But EWG warns: “Consumers who shell out the bucks for pricey SPF-labeled moisturizers rarely get the sun protection they expect.” Click here for EWG’s top-rated moisturizers with SPF.
 
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