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About

The EWG Sunscreen Guide rates the safety and efficacy of sunscreens, daily moisturizers, lip products and SPF-rated makeup. We launched the guide in 2007 because the federal Food and Drug Administration had failed to set modern safety standards for sunscreens. Without EWG’s guide, consumers would have to sift through misleading market claims and complex ingredient lists to determine if their favorite sunscreens would help protect them from sun-related skin damage.

About the Guide

The EWG Sunscreen Guide rates the safety and efficacy of sunscreens, daily moisturizers, lip products and SPF-rated makeup. We launched the guide in 2007 because the federal Food and Drug Administration had failed to set modern safety standards for sunscreens. Without EWG’s guide, consumers would have to sift through misleading market claims and complex ingredient lists to determine if their favorite sunscreens would help protect them from sun-related skin damage.

EWG’s research has discovered that some sunscreens have several serious problems. We are pressing the federal Food and Drug Administration to issue rules that address these deficiencies. In the meantime, EWG’s guide aims to help consumers make good choices and avoid sun damage and cancer.

EWG’s 2015 Sunscreen Guide rates the safety and efficacy of more than 1,000 sunscreens, more than 600 daily moisturizers and 100 lip products with SPF values. Our safety assessments are based on ingredients disclosed on product labels.

OVERALL SCORE:

The product’s score ranges from 0 to 10 and reflects both the degree of UV protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and the safety of all ingredients on the label. We base two-thirds of the overall score on a product’s UV protection. One-third of the score reflects the hazard score, based on toxicity concerns of listed ingredients.

Low hazard Moderate hazard High hazard

On a product page you can see how that product rates on six scoring criteria:

UV protection – A product’s ability to offer protection from UV rays is scored on four factors: UVB protection, UVA protection, UVA/UVB balance and sunscreen stability. Products are rated “excellent,” “good,” “moderate” or “poor” for each of these factors, based on the skin protection offered by the concentration of sunscreen ingredients listed on product labels.

UVB PROTECTION (SPF) LABELED SPF VALUE
UVA PROTECTION EXCELLENT / GOOD / MODERATE / POOR
UVA/UVB BALANCE EXCELLENT / GOOD / MODERATE / POOR
SUNSCREEN STABILITY EXCELLENT / GOOD / MODERATE / POOR
 

Health concerns – This score is based on all ingredients on the product label. Ingredients and products are rated according to EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics database ingredient hazard scores, described here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/site/about.php

HEALTH CONCERN LOW / MODERATE / HIGH
 

Other concerns – EWG has given additional weight in the overall product scores to certain factors that raise particular concerns:

  • contains oxybenzone or vitamin A
  • sprays and powders that may pose inhalation risks
  • SPF values exceeding 50+.

Sunscreens with one of these factors are rated no better than 3 (yellow, meaning “moderate hazard”). Sunscreens with two or more significant concerns are rated no better than 7 (red, meaning “high hazard”).

OTHER CONCERNS CONTAINS OXYBENZONE / CONTAINS VITAMIN A / MISLEADING SPF / SPRAY / POWDER
 

DATA AVAILABILITY SCORE

The “data availability” rating measures how much is known about an ingredient. Not all ingredients are equal when it comes to safety data. Some have been studied extensively. For others, there is only a modest volume of research. Some have not been tested at all.

Data: None
Data availability rating: the scope of ingredient safety data contained in Skin Deep®, and the number of studies available in the open scientific literature
Data: Limited
Data: Fair
Data: Good
Data: Robust

 

 

Data: None

A product’s low score on the hazard scale doesn’t mean much if scientists know very little about its contents. Your best bet? A doubly good score: low hazard rating + high data availability.

Read our methodology section for a complete description of our ratings system for sunscreen.

 

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About the ratings

EWG provides information on sunscreen products from the published scientific literature, to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government. The ratings indicate both efficacy and the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in this product - not the product itself - compared to other sunscreens. The ratings reflect potential health hazards but do not account for the level of exposure or individual susceptibility, factors which determine actual health risks, if any. Methodology | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions

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