The long weekend is right around the corner and people are packing up their cars to head to the beach. One thing you don’t want to forget to pack is the right sunscreen! Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put out their 12th annual guide to the best sunscreens, to help you choose safe and effective sun protection for you and your loved ones. EWG rates thousands of sunscreens from 0 to 10. This is known as the ingredient hazard score and reflects known and suspected hazards of ingredients. The safest products are rated 0 to 2 (green). Products that are rated 3 to 6 (yellow) have moderate hazards to health, and from 7 to 10 (red) are considered high hazards to health.
Since starting the guide in 2007, there has been good progress. Two notable changes have been the increase in mineral sunscreens on the market and the number of products that filter harmful UVA rays. There has been a doubling of mineral sunscreens from 17% to 34% in 2017. Mineral-based sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to protect against the sun. These two natural sunblocks are stable in sunlight, offer a good balance between protection from the two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, and don’t often contain potentially harmful additives. Back in 2007, there were no legal requirements that sunscreens shield against lower energy UVA rays. In 2011, the FDA enacted the first ever sunscreen rules that required sunscreens advertising “broad spectrum” to pass a test, and nearly all sunscreens sold today include an ingredient that filters UVA rays.
Since 2011, sunscreen regulation has made progress, including the following:
• Sunscreen labels must include warning about skin cancer and aging
• Sunscreen labels cannot have false claims like “waterproof” or “sunblock”
• The FDA established new water-resistance testing and labeling guidelines
• New broad-spectrum testing standards
• In 2014, President Obama signed the Sunscreen Innovation Act, which created a better FDA process for reviewing and approving new ingredients.
Although there has been progress, there are still many concerns regarding safe sunscreen. One concern is the misleading high SPF values. High SPF values do not necessarily offer greater protection and may lead consumers to spend too much time in the sun. In 2007, only 10 sunscreens in the guide claimed SPF 70 and higher, but this year there are 61 products making such claims, including 15 products advertised as SPF 100 or higher.
Another concern is that use of sunscreen sprays are on the rise. Although they may seem to offer convenience, they may pose an inhalation risk and may not provide a thick and even coating on the skin. In 2011, the FDA raised similar concerns. Lotions, creams and sticks may seem messier, but they provide better coverage and are safer to use, especially with children.
Also check out this link for more tips on summer safety.
Photo from here, with thanks.