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How to choose a better sunscreen

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1091/584434715_734910194c_m.jpg4 out of 5.

That's how many sunscreens failed EWG's examination this summer season. Seriously -- 4. Out of every 5. That's WAY too many.

I mean, I guess it could be because we set the standards so high. We actually expected sunscreens to be safe and effective. Silly us!

Our researchers investigated nearly 1000 products, from brand leaders like Coppertone and Neutrogena, to small-scale producers making specialty products. The results were disheartening, to say the least, but we did manage to fine more than 140 products we're willing to recommend. They tend to have a few things in common:

  • The active ingredient is at least 7% zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, not oxybenzone or benzophenone-3.
  • They don't contain bug repellent. Ingredients in sunscreen can make more of the pesticide absorb into the skin.
  • They're not spray-on or powder, because those forms are too easy to inhale, and you don't want that.
  • They don't come from market leaders Coppertone, Neutrogena, or Banana Boat. Fewer than 5% of their more than 100 products were recommended.
sunscreen guideSo, before you head out to the beach this holiday weekend, use EWG's updated sunscreen guide to choose something better. Looking for something you can pick up at your local drug store? Use our national brand recommendations -- or take along our handy one-page buying guide. And don't forget to apply liberally and frequently.

We've been waiting 30 years for FDA to produce mandatory, comprehensive sunscreen standards. Late last summer they proposed rules for UVA protection, but they still haven't even finalized that! What's the hold up, FDA?

Photo by amuderick.

 

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