The fourth annual Sunscreen Guide by Environmental Working Group (EWG) is full of bad, bad news for sun lovers. Low marks were given to almost all sunscreen products, with a few notable exceptions. EWG researchers recommend only 39, or 8%, of 500 beach and sport sunscreens on the market this season.
Products with high SPF ratings sell a false sense of security because most people using them stay out in the sun longer, still get burned (which increases risk of skin cancer) and subject their skin to large amounts of UVA radiation, the type of sunlight that does not burn but is believed responsible for considerable skin damage and cancer. High SPF products, which protect against sunburn, often provide very little protection against UVA radiation. Also, most people don't get the high SPF they pay for: people apply about a quarter of the recommended amount. In everyday practice, a product labeled SPF 100 really performs like SPF 3.2, an SPF 30 rating equates to a 2.3 and an SPF 15 translates to 2.
For the new report, EWG researchers assessed 1,400 sunscreen products, including beach and sports lotions, sprays and creams, moisturizers, make-up and lip balms. The 39 top beach and sports products that earned EWG's "green" rating all contain the minerals zinc or titanium. EWG researchers were unable find any non-mineral sunscreens that scored better than "yellow."
Before you head out into the sun this summer (well, or all year round technically) I'd read the new sunscreen report.