Sunscreen is a no-brainer in the summertime. Or is it? We’ve talked to dermatologists about sunscreens and how to choose one, but the conversation is decidedly more complex than that.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a lobbying group and think tank, stays on top of environmental concerns. It’s not a huge fan of sunscreens (though they acknowledge that they’re necessary), and just released its annual sunscreen report. They profiled over 1,700 products and claim that 80% of these aren’t safe.
The biggest argument that the EWG has is that the FDA has been lackadaisical about regulating sunscreens and their ingredients. Since 1978, the FDA has been considering how to strengthen sunscreen labeling. The EWG claims that many sunscreen labels are inaccurate regarding the amount of sun protection a product provides. A bill has been introduced in Congress asking the FDA to require companies to “prove UVA protection and substantiate marketing claims.”
The EWG report highlights some of the main arguments about commercial sunscreens, from the fact that there isn’t actually consensus about whether sunscreens prevent cancer to controversial questions about certain ingredients actually causing cancer or acting as hormone disruptors. (Go here to read more.)
The EWG recommends that you avoid chemical sunscreens and look for mechanical blockers, which contain zinc or titanium. Some of their picks for best brands (out of 126): California Baby, Coola, Earth’s Best, Goddess Garden, John Masters Organics, Kiss My Face, La Roche-Posey, and Maui Naturals. Hawaiian Tropic, Baby Blanket, Banana Boat and even an Aveeno offering made their Hall of Shame.
If sunscreens are a concern, the best bet is to wear protective clothing and stay out of the sun from 10am until 4pm. Not much of a summer. Or do some research and decide what your priorities are.