Update, June 2014: The best way to avoid dangerous sunscreen chemicals? Make your own!
A few months ago I wrote a guest post for Green & Clean Mom about my journey to going green. If you haven't read it already, you might enjoy reading that post! For me, it all started with personal care products, and specifically, sunscreen.
Using the Skin Deep cosmetics database, it's easy to see how we can be misled by labels, ingredients and what products are truly safe.
The EWG has put a lot of work into their home sunscreen page, including a handy printable guide (click to download) that gives you top brands, what ingredients to avoid, and some helpful tips. I won't reinvent the wheel here by restating everything that they have on their page and guide, but I did want to highlight a few of the most popular brands of sunscreen and show you how they rate. And if you're wondering where EWG got their info, you can read the summary of their study which included over 1,100 sunscreens. Here's a good quote from the study:
Our analyses show that products vary widely, both in their ability to protect from the sun's harmful UV radiation, and in the inherent safety of the ingredients themselves. FDA has set no mandatory standards for any of these factors, and manufacturers are free to make products that may not protect consumers from the sun and that may not be safe when slathered on the skin.
Here are a few of the worst rated brands/products (all scored a 7 out of 10 on the hazard scale) that were listed under babies/children. Do you recognize these?
- Coppertone Water Babies Lotion Sunscreen SPF 50
- Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 30
- No-Ad Kid's Ultra Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30
- Bull Frog Kid's UV Defender Fast Blast Spray, SPF 36
Even brands/products that claim to be or appear to be natural can often be misleading. Here are a few examples, all of which also score a 7:
- Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Sunscreen Cream for Children & Sensitive Skin, SPF 20
- Aveeno Active Naturals Baby Sunblock Lotion, SPF 55
- Arbonne Save Face & Body, SPF 15
My point here is that we have to be educated on ingredients, as I've said before. There are plenty of options out there that rate safely, including several that are a zero!! We just have to put a little more thought and effort into our search for products, and be willing to spend a little more for a safer product. Don't forget that we vote with our dollars, in a sense, every time we purchase something, and the more demand there is for safer products, hopefully the lower prices will get.
I guess the question of the hour is why are dermatologists recommending brands and products that have harmful ingredients in them? Are they just ignorant? Are they misinformed themselves because of the power of the chemical companies? I don't have an answer to that. But I'm putting in a question to EWG though and I'll be sure to report back if I get an answer.