2011 Sunscreen Guide Separates the Safe from the Snake Oil

2011 Sunscreen Guide

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.

“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.

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

2 thoughts on “2011 Sunscreen Guide Separates the Safe from the Snake Oil

  • While a hat and shirt and keeping yourself covered is the best first option for sun protection if you have to use a sunscreen make sure you pick one that uses Zinc Oxide and one that is free of titanium dioxide. Titanium Dioxide is unstable when exposed to UV light most sunscreens and cosmetics that use Titanium Dioxide have some type of coating on the Titanium to keep this from happening. The manufacturer is not required to label this as an ingredient on their ingredients list, because it’s not a separate ingredient.

    Also make sure if you are picking a Zinc based sunscreen that the zinc particles are larger than mean particle size of 100nm.

    (shameless self promotion disclosure – I sell Miessence)

    Miessence is listed in the best sunscreen category:

    this info is useful info to know:

    The “mean” is the “average” you’re used to, where you add up all the numbers and then divide by the number of numbers.

    The “median” is the “middle” value in the list of numbers

    the zinc oxide in Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm
    mean – 105nm
    median – 150nm
    range – 30-180nm

    the definition of a nanoparticle is where the mean particle size is smaller than 100nm.

    Micronized sized particles do not pass through your skin.
    Micronization is achieved through mechanical grinding not nano engineering.

    Miessence Reflect uses micronized Zinc Oxide and no Titanium Dioxide. If you don’t get some bit of “white” from your zinc oxide product, the Zinc is most likely nanoized. Micronized Zinc is still slightly visible on your skin when you are applying this product.

    You have to ask the manufacturer if their Zinc & Titanium are nano engineered.

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