The Environmental Working Group has rounded up their 2019 Guide to Sunscreens. This list provides the best choices for safe and effective sunscreens. 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.
This guide comes at around the same time that a study published in JAMA found that certain chemicals in most sunscreen products pose cancer risks. The study took blood test samples from participants after using sunscreens for 4 days. After 4 days, they found that these typical and common active ingredients in sunscreens, avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule were absorbed into the blood at levels that the FDA says is worth testing further for possible cancer risk.
This year EWG looked at 1,300 products with SPF (sun protection factor), including 750 currently available beach and sport sunscreens, and found that about two-thirds still offer inferior sun protection or contain concerning ingredients, such as oxybenzone, a potentially hormone-disrupting chemical that is readily absorbed by the body. This past February the FDA proposed a set of rules that would strengthen regulatory requirements for sunscreens sold in the U.S., which includes better understanding of the safety of active ingredients and their potential health effects.
Sun protection is important, but sunscreens should not be your only option. Here are some tips from EWG for protecting you and your family.
• Cover up: Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays, reducing burn risk by 27%.
• Find shade: Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella or take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack the tanning pigments, known as melanin, that protect skin.
• Plan around the sun. Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower. UV radiation peaks at midday.
• Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory. Good shades protect your eyes from UV radiation that causes cataracts.
• Apply sunscreen: Some sunscreens prevent sunburn but not other types of skin damage. Make sure yours offers broad spectrum protection.
For more information on safer sunscreens check out where your sunscreen rates on EWG’s sunscreen guide, and visit Village Green Apothecary for more safe sunscreens.