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Sunscreen series: About those mineral sunscreens...

Monday, July 27, 2009

By Lisa Frack with Sonya Lunder, EWG Senior Analyst

So you've read our 2009 sunscreen report cover to cover, right? OK, probably not - we're all too busy to handle that much information in the middle of summer - no matter how useful and scintillating and well written.

Introducing: Enviroblog's sunscreen mini-series So the good news is that we've cut it all up into more manageable pieces so you can become an expert on sunscreen safety in 6 posts, right here on Enviroblog. Painless! Easy! Definitely worthwhile (not that I'm biased). Every Monday, starting today, we'll tell you a little more, until at summer's end - hardly noticing it - you'll be a veritable sunscreen safety expert.

Our first topic: Alternatives to mineral sunscreens Many zinc and titanium-based sunscreens earn high ratings from EWG because they can provide stable, broad spectrum protection with fewer safety concerns. You might have noticed that all of our top- rated (62) beach and sport sunscreens contain at least some zinc or titanium.

Mineral sunscreens score well but not everyone likes to use them Ever since we released our sunscreen report in late June, we've been hearing from fans, (Facebook) friends and family across the country that some people just don't like the look and feel of the mineral sunscreens that predominate our 2009 recommended list. And let's face it - while it doesn't bother me or my kids - they are thicker and leave a white film on your skin.

We've also heard from folks who prefer to avoid nanoparticles - which are an ingredient in mineral sunscreens. We'll discuss these in greater depth in a future post in this 6-part sunscreen series.

But if people are less likely to use a sunscreen - very possible if they don't like how it goes on or looks - then it's a good idea to find an alternative that they will wear. We feel confident recommending our top-rated mineral products, but we understand that some people prefer to avoid them.

Which all begs the question: What sunscreen should you use if you don't like the look and feel of mineral sunscreens or prefer to avoid nanoparticles?

If you've decided not to use a mineral sunscreen, you'll find almost 300 alternatives in the Skin Deep cosmetics database. Choosing one of these non-mineral sunscreens will result in some trade-offs, though: many contain oxybenzone (an alternate UV filter we generally suggest avoiding), and many of the ones that don't contain oxybenzone are sprays. We generally aren't big fans of sprays because you can inhale more chemicals with them; pumps cause less inhalation than continuous sprays.

Buy your sunscreen online & benefit EWG If you can't find your ideal sunscreen in a local store, buy it through EWG's Amazon Associates site where we get a percentage of sales. Thanks!

PS - Check back next Monday for the 2nd post in our sunscreen series: So you found the perfect sunscreen: Now what?

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