Is your sunscreen safe?

It’s time to get serious about applying sunscreen. But which ones are best? And which ones are…safe?

The Environment Working Group (EWG), a non-profit that works to protect public health and the environment, found that 92 percent of brand name sunscreens either don’t sufficiently protect skin from sun damage or contain hazardous chemicals — or both.

EWG studied the safety and effectiveness ratings for 1,400 SPF products in their 4th annual study. The products tested included sunscreens and SPF-labeled lip balm, makeup, and moisturizer.

They rated these products for overall safety and efficacy in sun protection, considering the levels of UVA and UVB protection, the safety of the chemicals used in the products, and how quickly each product broke down in the sun.

Enter your sunscreen brand and type on the EWG’s site and find out where it stands in the rankings.

Two “red flag” ingredients to look for, according to the EWG, are vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and oxybenzone (found to be a potential hormone disrupter). Although vitamin A in veggies is healthy, spreading vitamin A on the skin may not be, according to new studies that showed tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with vitamin A-laced creams.

Look for zinc, titanium dioxide, Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX instead. Avoid sunscreens with added insect repellents; and stick to creams and lotions instead of powders and sprays which can be inhaled.

Finding a wider variety of sunscreen options at local chains can be a challenge. Find more brands on sites like, or  check out Sunsational Style, a store with plenty of sun protection products founded by an Arizona mom.

We featured Gina Phalen, who was inspired to start Sunsational Style after she was diagnosed with skin cancer, as one of our RAK Mompreneurs in 2009.


2 responses to “Is your sunscreen safe?

  1. Their database is invaluable! I find it interesting that two of the brands the Consumer Reports recommended (Banana Boat Sport SPF 30 and Aveeno SPF 50) were rated as those to avoid by EWG.

    Will definitely be using this site when looking for sunscreens in the future.


  2. I agree- their research is fascinating. It’s disappointing that many of the safer brands are not available in the big chains, at least in my area.
    Thanks for the comment!

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