6.26.2008

Screening Brand Name Sunscreens


Those of you who know me will be familiar with my rather fair (aka 'pasty') complexion and likely not surprised by my potentially inordinant amount of sunscreen use. The best medicine is prevention, and for cancer prevention, skin health relies on minimizing exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays. Searching out effective non-toxic sunscreen is important to me, but I've come to realize that I may be too trustworthy of common drug store/ health food store brands. I've recently come across a very informative website by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that has gone to the trouble and scientific venture of testing the efficacy of retail sunscreens. They have complied their results along with a safety report on product ingredients. Sunscreen brands are ranked according to the combination of their effectiveness and ingredient safety. Their results show that "84 percent of 785 sunscreen products with an SPF rating of 15 or higher offer inadequate protection from the sun’s harmful rays, or contain ingredients with safety concerns" (EWG News Release). I was astonished to find that "ironically, some popular sunscreen chemicals break down when exposed to sunlight" (EWG News Release) . Eeeek!, how is that supposed to help? While soaking up the sun's natural mood enhancing benefits, and a little vitamin D (in those uncovered areas), I like to feel confident that I won't 'scorch' or expose myself to unnecessary chemicals. I don't feel this should be too much to ask. The EWG seems to understand this and has done good work to offer practical knowledge that sheds light onto those 'everyday' yet important decisions.

-un

Which Sunscreens are Safest? EWG News Release
Sunscreen Database