The Environmental Working Group has just released their “Hall of Shame” rating the 34 worst sunscreens on the market today. Followers of this blog may remember that recently Absolutely Natural’s sunscreen was named in the top ten best products.
We won’t embarrass the companies by releasing names but they are well recognized, highly advertised and represent some of the largest selling sunscreens.
Below are some criteria that EWG used to pick their shameful products:
- 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.
Here’s how the EWG picked the Hall of Shame
1) Spray sunscreens
One in every four sunscreens in this year’s database is a spray. People like sprays because they’re easy to squirt on squirming kids and hard-to-reach areas. But they may pose serious inhalation risks, and they make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot.
The FDA has expressed doubts about their safety and effectiveness but hasn’t banned them. As long as they’re legal, sunscreen manufacturers will make them.
2) Sky-high SPFs
One eighth of the sunscreens we evaluated this year boast SPFs above 50+. SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” but that outdated term refers only to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin. It has little to do with a product’s ability to protect skin from UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the body, accelerate skin aging, may suppress the immune system and may cause skin cancer.
The worst thing about high-SPF products is that they give people a false sense of security and tempt them to stay in the sun too long. They suppress sunburns but raise the risk of other kinds of skin damage. The FDA is considering barring SPF above 50+.
Half of the beach and sport sunscreens in this year’s guide contain oxybenzone, an active ingredient in sunscreens. But it penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic skin reactions. Some research studies, while not conclusive, have linked higher concentrations of oxybenzone to disorders, including endometriosis in older women and, lower birth weights in newborn girls.
4) Retinyl palmitate
Nearly 20 percent of the sunscreens and SPF-rated moisturizers and 13 percent of SPF-rate lip products in this year’s guide contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A. Night creams with this chemical may help skin look more youthful. But on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies. Why does the FDA allow this “inactive ingredient” in sunscreens intended for use in the sun? The agency has been studying the chemical for years but hasn’t made a decision. We have. The definitive study may not have been done, but we think we know enough to believe you’re better off without sunscreens with retinyl palmitate.
Absolutely Natural has for the last 23 years preached sensible sun safety. The dangerously high SPF’s are, in my opinion, marketing hype. Our sunscreens have full spectrum protection from the minerals we use. They keep you from burning and protect against UVA as well to help slow down the signs of aging. Use with our aloes in a complete Protect, Promote, Prolong system.
If you want more information, visit the EWG web site at: www.ewg.org.