The 2011 Sunscreen Guide from Environmental Working Group (EWG) helps parents sort out the safe and effective sunscreens from those which not only fail to protect the skin, but may actually be harmful to use.
Before you stock up on sunscreen for your family, you’ll want to dig into the findings from EWG’s research into over 1700 sun protection products, because if you’re just grabbing the most convenient or cheapest option, the odds are against you.
- 3 out of 5 sunscreens on the market offer inadequate UVA protection (and would be considered too weak by European standards)
- 30% of them contain an ingredient which may actually speed up the development of skin lesions and tumors
- The SPF numbers on the product itself may not actually have any real-world basis
- Sunscreen regulations in the U.S. stalled back in 1978, so there are no enforceable federal regulations protecting consumers
“FDA neglect has allowed the proliferation of overstated safety claims, misleading SPF values and the use of phototoxic ingredients. Without firm guidelines consumers only have a 1 in 5 chance of picking a safe and effective sunscreen from store shelves.” – Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst
So before you pick up some snake oil labelled as sunscreen, I urge you to use the EWG database to search for the product your family currently uses, steer clear of the ones on the sunscreen hall of shame, and then use the recommended sunscreens list to guide your purchases.
Or if you want the guide to go, the 2011 Sunscreen Guide is also available as a free iPhone app.