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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 Guide to Sunscreens rates the hazards and efficacy of sunscreens, in addition to moisturizers and lip products with sun protection factor, or SPF, ratings. 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 whether their favorite sunscreens would protect them from sun-related skin damage.

Through its research, EWG has discovered that some sunscreens have serious problems. We are pressing the FDA 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 2019 Guide to Sunscreens rates the hazards and efficacy of more than 750 sunscreens, 450 daily moisturizers and more than 120 lip products with SPF values. Our assessments are based on ingredients disclosed on product labels.

OVERALL SCORE

Each product’s score ranges from 0 to 10 and reflects both the degree of protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and the hazards 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, which is based on concerns with the listed ingredients’ toxicity.

Low hazard Moderate hazard High hazard

On a product page you can see how a product scores on the basis of six criteria:

UV protection. A product’s ability to offer protection from UV rays is scored for 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’s 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 factors that raise particular concerns:

  • The product contains oxybenzone or vitamin A.
  • It is a spray or powder, which may pose inhalation risks.
  • It has an SPF value exceeding 50+.
  • Its predicted SPF value is much lower than that on product label.

Sunscreens with just one of these factors are rated no better than 3 or yellow, which indicates “moderate hazard.” Sunscreens with two or more significant concerns are rated no better than 7 or red, which indicates high hazard. Sunscreens with SPF concerns and ingredient hazards rate 10 in our database.

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 hazard 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 hazard 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 and high data availability.

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

 

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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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