Choosing your sunscreen: Decisions, decisions!
Can you have your (gluten, sugar-free, Paleo) cake and eat it too? That is the burning question (no pun intended) when it comes to sunscreen—can we achieve that winning combination of effectiveness and least toxicity?
Check out our guide to buying safe and effective sunscreens.
Table 1 is a selected Consumer Reports (CR) list of top-rated (for effectiveness) sunscreens that also scored between 2 – 4 (least toxicity), according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). We recommend avoiding any sunscreen with an EWG rating of 5 or higher, and the closer to 1 the better.
Table 1: Sunscreens that scored well on CR for effectiveness and on EWG for safety
|LOTION:||Consumer Reports rating||EWG rating||Cost|
|Pure Sun Defense SPF 50||98||3||1.99 oz/$15.94|
|No-Ad Sport SPF 50||88||3||16 oz/$14.25|
|Ocean Potion Protect and Nourish SPF 30||86||3||8 oz/$11.40|
|Banana Boat Protect & Hydrate SPF 30||72||3||6 oz/$6.77|
|Alba Botanica very emollient SPF 50||67||2||4 oz/$10.22|
|Neutrogena Beach defense water + sun protection SPF 50||74||4||1.5 oz/$11.82|
|Neutrogena Clear face SPF 55||78||4||3 oz/$11.26|
Consumer reports tests the sunscreens for the efficacy of the UVB and UVA rating as well as the claimed SPF. The total score is a combination of these three tests. For example Alba Botanica (scored 67) met its SPF claim so received an excellent rating for UVB but it’s UVA rating was just “good” (below “excellent” and “very good”), which brought down its overall score.
Of the Consumer Report tested sunscreens, none had the safest EWG rating of 1, so we also included selected EWG level 1-rated products that had a four or higher star rating on Amazon. BUT: just because there isa high star rating on Amazon does not necessarily mean a product is effective,.
In our own testing of EWG 1-rated products, Thinksport and Blue Lizard both went on with no smell or white residue.
Table 2: Sunscreens that scored REALLY well on EWG and well on Amazon (4 or 5 stars), but have not been tested by CR
|Tropical Sands SPF 50||1||8 oz||$19.95|
|Thinksport SPF 50||1||3 oz||$11.70|
|Badger Sport SPF 35||1||2.9 oz||$13.59|
|Blue Lizard Sensitive Skin SPF 30||1||8.75 oz||$25.30|
|Burnout Ocean tested SPF 30||1||3.4 oz||$14.43|
|Trukids Sunny Days SPF 30||1||3.5 oz||$17.29|
Your daily dose of D – getting your sun exposure right
A lot of people are low in Vitamin D, the nutrient that our body makes when exposed to sunlight. By the way, it’s an easy blood test to get, even from mainstream physicians and we recommend everyone get their levels checked at least annually. .
It is a reasonable question to ask—are we avoiding the sun too much?
There is little scientific evidence to suggest sunscreen alone prevents the risk for melanoma. In fact, there is even some concern that toxic chemicals used in some sunscreens can actually contribute to cancer and disrupt hormones. Although we are more educated and have a booming sunscreen industry, melanoma rates have tripled over the last three decades.
We recommend getting at least 10 minutes of sun per day without sunscreen for fair skinned people and up to 15-20 minutes per day for darker skinned people. You will probably still need to take extra vitamin D if, like us, you live at higher latitudes.
Things to absolutely avoid in your sunscreen
These are some good-to-know tips when shopping for sunscreens in general:
1. Avoid oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, which appear to be the highest risk factors for hormone disruption and cancer.
2. SPF ratings higher than 50 – Higher SPF ratings don’t necessarily offer greater protection from other UV-related skin damage and may lead users to spend too much time in the sun.
3. Sunscreen sprays – Even though sprays are convenient there are very few that have a safe EWG rating. They also come with an inhalation risk and may not provide a thick enough coating on the skin to be effective.
4. Products without UVA protection – People pick sunscreen based on the SPF value, and falsely assume that preventing sunburn means they have protected their skin from UV damage. This is not the case. Many sunscreens don’t provide adequate protection from UVA rays. While higher-energy UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburns and pre-cancerous DNA mutations, lower-energy UVA rays cause more subtle damage. They penetrate deeper into skin tissue and are most responsible for generating free radicals – energized molecules that are highly reactive and can damage DNA and skin cells. These promote skin aging, and cause skin cancer,
Now, go off and enjoy your summer with your safe and effective sunscreen! Post your fav products below…!