There are a lot of sunscreens on the market: some good, some bad and then the shameful. These last are not only a waste of money but also potentially harmful. According to the Environmental Working Group, you would do well to banish many well-known products from your beach bag.
In particular, read labels to identify products that include the ingredients oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Oxybenzone penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body, which can disrupt your hormone system. It can also 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.
Many sunscreens, SPF-rated moisturizers, and SPF-rated lip products contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A. Night creams with this chemical may help skin look more youthful. But government studies show that on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions. Although the FDA allows this “inactive ingredient” in sunscreens intended for use in the sun, you’re better off without.
People like sprays because they’re easy. But they may pose serious inhalation risks, and they make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot. The worst are aerosol sprays with SPFs above 50+ and the harmful additives oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, and include offerings from Banana Boat, Coppertone Sport, CVS and Neutrogena.
Lotions with High SPFs
SPF stands for “sun protection factor” but that outdated term refers only to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin.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+.
Sunscreens for Kids
The worst kid and baby sunscreens have at least three strikes against them: 1) oxybenzone, 2) retinyl palmitate and 3) SPFs above 50+. Some even have a fourth strike: they’re aerosol sprays that can harm sensitive young lungs. Convenient? Yes. Good for kids? Absolutely not. Read labels on Banana Boat Clear, Coppertone Kids/Water Babies, Equate Kids, Krogers Baby/Kids, Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids and Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick.
To read more and to see the lists of best and worst sunscreens visit www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/