Is Your Sunscreen Telling You the Whole Truth?

Is your sunscreen working?

photo: US Fda

Find out who tops the Environmental Working Group's Sunscreen Hall of Shame.

Sunscreen? Yes!

We’ve all embraced the need to protect our skin from ozone and to use a light sunscreen daily and massive amounts of sunblock when playing or working in the sun for extended periods. No doubt, women who work hard to keep their skin healthy and as youthful as possible, have gone through numerous brands and SPF strengths to find their perfect combination. Our favorite skin care lines have provided ample options with SPF added to everything from serums, acne creams, foundations and powders. Unfortunately, they’ve also created a bit of a SPF quandary for some of us who have become chemists in our attempts to balance the sunblock amounts in our various lotions and potions.

The Whole Truth About Sunscreen

The Environmental Working Group has tracked both beauty-based and sport sunscreens for 9+ years. They evaluate each by ingredients, overall protection and UVA/UVB balance. They give accolades to the best and tally up the worst offenders so that we can make informed choices. They also provide a database of over 1700 products where you can look up your sunscreen and see how it stacks up against others in the same category. I looked up my favorite, Vanicream, and was pleasantly surprised at its rating, but also mildly concerned about some of the ingredients.

The Worst Sunscreens in the World

Enter the EWG, Sunscreen Hall of Shame. This list grades the drugstore variety of sports sunscreens and a one popular, daily facial sunscreen in spray on, lotions and kids categories. Read it and hopefully you will not have to weep if you find your go-to sunblock at the top of the list.

Here is EWG’s preamble to the Hall of Shame:

There are a lot of sunscreens on the market: some good, some bad and then the shameful.

Those in the last category are not only a waste of money and time but also potentially harmful. Here are our picks for products to banish from your beach bag.

  • Spray sunscreens can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.
  • SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.
  • Oxybenzone can disrupt the hormone system.
  • Retinyl palmitate may trigger damage, possibly cancer.

And who is the worst offender…Neutrogena! Here is what EWG had to say about them:

Neutrogena Sunscreen

photo: Mike Mozart

Neutrogena’s advertising hype is further from reality than any other major brand we studied. It claims to be the “#1 dermatologist recommended suncare brand.” Yet all four products highlighted on Neutrogena’s suncare web page rate 7, in the red – worst – zone in our database. Neutrogena’s “Pure & Free Baby” sunscreen claims “special protection from the sun and irritating chemicals” and “hypoallergenic,” but it contains a preservative called methylisothiazolinone, or MI, that some researchers call a potent allergen and that is deemed unsafe in Europe.

 

There is more on the worst of the worst – Neutrogena.

But now, on to the list. Don’t forget, you can find the best sunscreen list on the EWG website and look up your brand.

Environmental Working Group – Sunscreen Hall of Shame

11 Worst Spray Sunscreens

These sunscreens are aerosol sprays with SPFs above 50+ and the harmful additives oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.

Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Ultra Defense MAX Skin Protect Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
Coppertone Sport High Performance AccuSpray Sunscreen, SPF 70
Coppertone Sport High Performance Clear Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100+
CVS Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
CVS Sheer Mist Spray Sunscreen, SPF 70
CVS Sport Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100+
CVS Wet & Dry Sunscreen Spray, SPF 85
Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Body Mist, SPF 70
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100+
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray, SPF 85+

12 Worst Sunscreen Lotions

These sunscreen lotions claim SPFs above 50+ and contain oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.

Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen, SPF 75
Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
CVS Sport Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 100
CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Daily Liquid Sunscreen, SPF 70
NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 60
NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85
Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70

11 Worst Sunscreens for Kids

These terrible kid and baby sunscreens have at least three strikes against them: 1) oxybenzone, 2) retinyl palmitate and 3) SPFs above 50+. Two have a fourth strike: they’re aerosol sprays that can harm sensitive young lungs. Convenient? Yes. Good for kids? Absolutely not.

Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Kids Max Protect & Play Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Kroger Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Kroger Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunblock Spray, SPF 70+
Up & Up Kid’s Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

 

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