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EWG Verified®: Sunscreens

The definitive standard in sunscreen safety

As a pioneer in advocating for consumer safety, EWG has been at the forefront of evaluating sunscreen products for more than 17 years. In 2023, we raised the bar by introducing EWG Verified®: Sunscreens. They’re free from chemicals of concern and made with the highest expectations of transparency.

The EWG Verified mark is the gold standard for sunscreen safety, making it easy for you to find the safest, healthiest products to protect your skin from sun damage.

Shining a light on problem products

In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration failed to establish modern safety standards for sunscreens to ensure toxic chemicals aren’t being used in products. That’s when we took matters into our own hands.

There are so many sunscreens on the market, leading consumers to easily get overwhelmed looking for a product that’s both effective against the sun and healthy to use. EWG’s first Guide to Sunscreens in 2007 set a new standard to help people make the best buying decisions for themselves and their families.

Fast forward to 2021, when EWG scientists found that most sunscreens sold in the U.S. offered inadequate protection from ultraviolet A, or UVA, radiation, despite what the products’ listed SPF suggested, giving sunscreen users a false sense of safety.

What are EWG Verified sunscreens?

EWG is committed to addressing ongoing concerns over the effectiveness of sunscreens in the U.S. market. As part of our dedication to consumer safety, you can find EWG Verified sunscreens in the popular annual sunscreens guide.

EWG Verified sunscreens build on the success of other EWG Verified categories – including cosmetics, cleaning products, baby diapers and mattresses – of products that are safer and healthier for you and your family.

By choosing products with the EWG Verified mark, consumers can be confident their sunscreen has been thoroughly evaluated by EWG and is backed by our decades of expertise in assessing consumer products for health and safety.

Ingredient health and product efficacy

In addition to meeting strict criteria for ingredient safety and transparency, EWG Verified sunscreens address important gaps in how well recreational SPF products work.

EWG Verified requires sunscreens to meet standards for UVA protection that go beyond those mandated in the U.S. and in Europe.

The European Commission recommends that the ratio of measured UVA protection to SPF should be at least one-third. EWG Verified’s performance standards require all sunscreens to be tested and proven to have measured UVA protection that meets this recommendation, ensuring consumers are protected from the sun’s most damaging rays.

Unlike other sunscreens on the market, EWG Verified products must fully disclose all ingredients and avoid those on our list of unacceptable substances that have health, toxicity and contamination concerns. And these products cannot contain anything from our list of  restricted ingredients unless they meet the stringent restrictions set by authoritative bodies and industry institutions.

So when consumers see the EWG Verified mark, they can be certain a product provides the highest possible levels of UVA protection, using the safest ingredients.

Additional factors

EWG Verified sunscreens also consider other factors, so they cannot:

  • Be in an aerosol or powder form, given the increased inhalation risk. 
  • Have an SPF value below 15 or higher than 50.
  • Include marketing claims banned by the FDA, such as “sunblock,” “sweatproof,” or “waterproof.”

In a market full of products that may not effectively protect consumers from harmful UVA rays, the EWG Verified mark is a beacon of trust. By searching for the EWG Verified mark in product aisles, consumers can confidently choose the best option to protect themselves and their families from chemicals of concern and the sun’s harmful rays.

It’s easy to find EWG Verified sunscreens. Look for the mark on product packages, check company websites for information on their EWG Verified products, and search EWG’s Skin Deep® database and Guide to Sunscreens for the most up-to-date information.

Until the FDA adopts meaningful regulation, EWG will fill the critical gap in the sunscreen market of providing peace of mind for consumers who seek reliable sunscreen options.