Sun Safety: Best Sunscreens and 9 to Avoid
Update: Click here for the 2013 sunscreen guide.
It’s national Don’t Fry Day—which at first I thought was some kind of healthy food campaign, but is actually the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention’s way to encourage sun safety awareness by reminding everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors. The EPA has loads of tips, including seeking shade or covering up when the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and, of course, slathering on the sunscreen:
|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.|
Got it. Less straightforward is choosing a sunscreen. Shelves at supermarkets and pharmacies are lined with dozens of brands of sunscreen. But there are all kinds of questions about whether the labeling and safety guidelines created in 1978 are adequate, as well as concerns about the safety of certain ingredients in the lotions, such as retinyl palmitate, a derivative of vitamin A that may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.
The Environmental Working Group just released its 2011 Sunscreens Guide. Its top-rated products contain either zinc or titanium minerals to help cut UVA exposures. For folks who prefer to avoid such nano-minerals, EWG also recomments non-mineral options (none received the top rating, as they all contain at least one chemical “considered to be a potential hormone disruptor, and many offer only moderate or weak UVA protection”). Finally, the group also identified nine sunscreen products to avoid. All information below is from EWG, which scores products on a scale of one to 10 (0-2 is low hazard; 3-6 is moderate hazard; 7-10 is high hazard).
Click here to find out how your favorite sunscreen scores in the EWG’s Skin Deep database. Or download the app here.
Scroll down for the top-rated products, 11 non-mineral ones, and 9 to avoid.
Top-rated Sunscreens (these all scored a ‘1’ from EWG):
-Natural Sun Sport Stick Unscented Sunscreen, SPF 30
-Natural Sun Unscented Sensitive Skin/Children Sunscreen, SPF 30+
-Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick, SPF 50
-kidsUV Natural Sunscreen Pink, SPF 30
-Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30+
-Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30+
-Sunscreen, Lightly Scented Lavender, SPF 30+
-Sunscreen Face Stick, Unscented, SPF 30+
-Natural Clear, SPF 30
-No Fragrance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
-No Fragrance Sunblock Stick, SPF 30+
-Mineral Sunblock, SPF 30
-MineralBaby Moisturizer Suncare, Unscented, SPF 45
-Baby Unscented Natural Mineral Sunblock, SPF 45
Doctor T’s Supergoop!
-Quickstick, SPF 30
Eco Skin Care
-Eco Face, SPF 30+
-Eco Baby, SPF 30+
-Eco Body, SPF 30+
-Sunscreen Sport, SPF 20
-Kids Sunscreen, SPF 20
-SUNSTICK Zinc Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30
-Sunscreen Sport, Tinted, SPF 22
-SUNSTICK Zinc Sunscreen - Coconut, SPF 30
-Sunscreen, SPF 25