Most U.S. Sunscreen Either 'Inferior' or 'Worrisome' Says New Report

Chances are your sunscreen is either harmful or ineffective

Many outdoor adventurers are looking forward to months of warm weather and strong sunshine, with tubes and spray bottles of sunscreen in-hand, but a report recently released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) would have them thinking twice about how they protect their skin. The 2015 report, EWG’s Sunscreen Guide, highlights some of the often overlooked issues with the ingredients in sunscreens and the marketing strategies they employ. 

The report starts off on a grave note.

“Fully 80 percent of 1,700 products we examined this year offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone and vitamin A.”

According to the report, oxybenzone has been shown to disrupt hormone levels and forms of vitamin A found in many sunscreens have been linked to skin damage. The most harmful and ineffective sunscreens have made it into EWG’s Hall of Shame.

The hall of shame is comprised of spray sunscreens (as they are often inhaled and make it easy to apply too little), high SPF ratings (as they don’t offer adequate protection from UVA rays, but give people a false sense of security) and sunscreens with ingredients (Oxybenzone and Retinyl Palmitate) that have been characterized as harmful in scientific studies. An alarming amount of popular brands made it into the hall of shame.

Of all the sunscreens, moisturizers with SPF and lip balms tested, “only 21 percent of the sunscreens, 19 percent of the moisturizers with SPF and 21 percent of the lip balms in EWG’s database for 2015 scored 1 or 2.” Lower ratings are better in this case. As part of the 2015 round-up, the EWG also highlighted the safest, most protective and highest rated sunscreens.

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