Summer Means Sunscreen

It is summer and out comes the sunscreen! There are tubes of different sizes, and of different strengths in my car, briefcase, swim bag, purse, and even in my office. My teens are always putting on sunscreen and would not even consider being out in the sun without it - but is it good for them?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released a summary about the safety of sunscreen, and yet again, my best intentions for protecting the health of my own teens fall flat! It turns out that 4 out of 5 sunscreen products do not provide adequate protection from the sun, and in fact contain ingredients "with significant safety concerns."

The EWG investigated 979 name-brand sunscreens [does it bother anyone but me that are are actually that many] and found that the leading brands are the worst offenders! For example none of Coppertone's (39) sunscreen products met the EWG criteria for safety and effectiveness and only 1 out of 90 Banana Boat or Neutrogena products did.

So what did they find?
  • many products do not block both UVA (which causes the skin damage and aging) and UVB (which causes sunburn) radiation;
  • many break down in the sun (how ironic is that); and
  • some have toxic ingredients.
More importantly, what do they recommend?
  • Buy SPF 30 or higher that contains at least 7% zinc oxide or titanium dioxide;
  • avoid oxybenzone or benzophenone-3 to minimize skin absorption, allergies, and hormone problems;
  • put sunscreen on 15 minutes before the bug repellent to minimize skin absorption; and
  • avoid spray and powder sunscreens (because you inhale them).
The top sunscreens they recommend are:
  1. Blue Lizard (anything without oxybenzone)
  2. California Baby SPF 30+)
  3. CVS with zinc oxide
  4. Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock
  5. Kiss My Face "Paraben Free" series
  6. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock
  7. Olay defense Daily UV Moisturizer (with zinc)
  8. SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense
  9. Solar Sense Clear Zinc for Face
  10. Walgreens Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose & Ears
If you are not interested in the whole report, you can also print a single-page summary, and see which sunscreens are the best at

More than 1 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year, and the rates are increasing - know your sunscreen facts and help your teens be as safe as they can be!
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