EWG’s ’09 Sunscreen Consumer Guide

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

WASHINGTON – In an affirmation of Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) three-year campaign for more effective sunscreens, 70 percent of sunscreens offered for the 2009 beach season contain strong UVA filters, compared to just 29 percent last year. Top brands reformulated to better protect against UVA radiation include Solbar, Zia Natural Skincare, Nivea, L'Oreal, and Hawaiian Tropic. This is a move in the right direction, but each of these products still rates relatively low compared to the top-ranked brands.

Another plus in 2009: 19 percent fewer sunscreens contains oxybenzone, an active ingredient that disrupts the hormone system.

But a new EWG investigation of 1,572 sunscreens and other sun-blocking products currently on the market found that 3 of 5 sunscreens either don’t protect skin from sun damage or contain hazardous chemicals — or both.

While companies are adding ingredients that better shield against UVA radiation, linked to premature aging and cancer, in addition to UVB radiation, which causes obvious – and painful – sunburn, many brands contain UVA filters at levels to low to provide strong protection.

Since the federal Food and Drug Administration still hasn’t delivered on its 1978 promise to issue meaningful sunscreen standards, EWG conducts its own yearly comprehensive analysis of leading products that claim to protect consumers from the sun.

EWG’s 2009 Sunscreen Guide, found at https://www.ewg.org/cosmetics/report/sunscreen09, ranks sunscreens, moisturizers with SPF claims and lip balms from best to worse. NOTE: A shareable search widget is available to let site visitors finds the safest, most effective sunscreen products.

“The FDA may not care about the safety and effectiveness of sunscreen products, but the public does,” said EWG’s Vice President of Research, Jane Houlihan. “EWG’s guide is really the only place concerned consumers can go to identify which sunscreens, lip balms and moisturizers are the safest, most protective for themselves and their families.”

More than a million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. The incidence of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of the disease, is escalating. Effective sunscreens are crucial to public health.

EWG President Ken Cook is sending FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg a UV-protective parasol from Soleil Chic—a company founded by Lynn Rose after losing her husband to skin cancer. The parasol accompanies Cook’s letter urging Hamburg to set sunscreen safety guidelines once and for all.


EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.https://www.ewg.org

Key Issues: