EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) 6th annual Sunscreen Guide rates 257 brands and more than 1,800 products for sun protection. Each year since the start the Environmental Working Group has taken the time to research and test sunscreens, lotions, SPF lip balms, make-up and moisturizer’s to report on the effectiveness and safety of each product. You might be surprised which products rate as hazardous on their scale. It’s easy to find your product–just enter the brand and type into the search section, then click on ‘GO!’

Rating of the products are given a score: 

  • 0-2 = Low Hazard 
  • 3-6 = Moderate Hazard
  • 7-10 = High Hazard

This year they are proud to announce that they recommend 1 in 4 of more than 800 beach and sport sunscreens! EWG also added more  baby and kid’s sunscreens to the database. It was found that “more products made specifically for children use safe, effective ingredients, relative to sunscreens marketed for the general public.”

About 63 percent of kids’ sunscreens contain effective mineral ingredients that provide good UVA protection, compared to 40 percent of other sunscreens.

It’s a good thing that a resource like the EWG is available to the public because if consumers had to wait around for the government to figure things out we would all still be in the dark. The FDA made big promises last year that by June 2012 there would be a requirement to change the labels on sunscreen so that consumers would be more informed when purchasing sunscreen. You can read more about the details on this blog post. Now they are giving large sunscreen manufacturers an extra six months, until mid-December, to rid their sunscreen labels of misleading terms such as “waterproof” or “sunblock.” We will just have to wait and see if the FDA will follow through with these regulations in time for next summer.

EWG points out some safety gaps that the delay of the regulations creates. Take note:

What the sunscreen labels SHOULD look like.
  • Sunscreens with poor UVA protection remain legal. Half the sunscreens in our database will pass the FDA’s  “broad spectrum” test provide such weak UVA protection that they would not be sold in Europe. There, manufacturers voluntarily comply with a European Union recommendation that all sunscreens provide meaningful UVA protection in relation to SPF.
  • Sunscreens can still hype super-high SPF (sunburn protection factor) ratings that prevent burns from UVB rays but leave users at risk for skin damage and aging caused by UVA rays. About 1 in 7 beach and sport sunscreens claim SPFs greater than 50+. The FDA has proposed barring SPF claims higher than 50 but has not issued regulations to make it mandatory.  Studies show that high-SPF users are exposed to as many or more ultraviolet rays as those who use lower-SPF products, probably because consumers get a false sense of security from those big numbers. They wait too long before reapplying sunscreen and stay out too long.
  • Spray and powder sunscreens that may eventually damage lungs are still out there. The FDA is investigating their toxicity risks.

For now you can definitely get very informed information on the EWG website and UV Skinz is pleased to announce the launch of our new sunscreen section on the main UV Skinz website . We are excited to provide the Beyond Coastal stick which is the ONLY non-mineral, chemical based sunscreen we currently carry but it is still highly EWG rated. Beyond Coastal is a  good choice for those who prefer to avoid nano-scale minerals like zinc and titanium (the primary active ingredients for almost all of our sunscreens) or who don’t like the smell or feel of mineral sunscreens but the trade-off is that it contains at least one chemical considered to be a potential hormone disruptor. The  Kinesys sprays and Cotz lip balm are ranked a 3 on EWG’s list and all other sunscreens we are carry are ranked 1 or 2 on the EWG rating. We all know 1 is the best you can get!

Sunscreen is a very important factor in overall sun-protection, but there are other steps that are equally as important.

  • Try to avoid the peak sun hours of the day between 10am and 4pm.
  • If you must be in direct sunlight during those times then seek shade under a tree, canopy, umbrella or wide-brimmed hat.
  • Wearing UV Skinz sun-protective clothing while enjoying any outdoor activities will decrease the amount of sunscreen used on your body. Mostly you will only have to apply sunscreen to your face, neck, ears, backs of hands and legs if your lower body, chest and back are covered with uv-protective coverings.
  • Do monthly skin self-checks for changes in existing or new moles!