The Best Sunscreens, And The Research To Go Along With It:
It’s summer again! And it’s broiling.
As a result, one of the big concerns we’ll all be dealing with is Sun Exposure.
But don’t worry! There are a few research groups out there to help you,
And one of the best out there, the EWG, has published its list, along with a full set of guides on the many considerations that come with protecting yourself from the sun.
Along with that, is a list of the updates and remaining concerns that we should all consider…
Things Are Getting Better Slowly, But Cautions Remain:
So to start off with, sunscreens are better now than they have been before.
The products are improving and potentially-harmful ingredients are fading away,
The labeling is becoming clearer and easier to understand,
And developments are underway to continue the positive developments in standards & chemistry that previously seemed unlikely,
Despite the cautions we must all still live with.
So without further ado:
First, The Good News:
1) Sunscreens are now better than they have been before.
2) Regulators have cracked down on questionable marketing.
3) Fewer misleading terms & claims are now allowable by law.
4) Products have become safer by changing their chemical mix and adding new ones.
5) More than twice the products as 10+ years ago are mineral-based, which offers a physical-barrier of protection.
6) A physical barrier like zinc or titanium dioxide may offer even better protection than current chemicals.
7) These particles have also been tested for safety and don’t absorb into your skin or cause problems.
8) They are also now small enough that they don’t look like white paint when you put them on.
9) The number of products that filter UV-A is up by 18 percent since 2007.
10) The use of Vitamin A is down to almost 1/3 of what it was in 2010.
11) This is great because there may be a correlation between vitamin-a sunscreens and skin cancer.
12) Labels must now have warnings about aging & serious skin problems from sun exposure.
13) New tests for waterproof-sunscreens are in the works, which is great for the beach crowd.
14) Preliminary regulations have been passed & our UV-A protection standards are improving.
15) These may one day equal the protection-level of products sold in Europe.
16) UV-A is a lower-energy type of radiation but still has harmful effects on skin in both early-aging and unhealthy levels of damage, so it’s important to block that too.
17) Btw, the Ozone-Hole is still healing but don’t take its continued-progress for granted.
The Bad News:
1) The EWG investigated 650 Beach & Sport Sunscreens and serious concerns remain.
2) 2/3 of the products examined, contain inferior ingredients or offer weak protection.
3) Oxybenzone is still used in many of them.
4) It’s a potential hormone disruptor that can be absorbed through the skin.
5) It’s even implicated in the death of coral-reefs because of this and is about to be banned in Hawaii.
6) Because of these concerns, the EWG is starting a petition to get manufacturers to ban it by 2020.
7) Oxybenzone and sunscreen chemicals have been found in mother’s milk, and may impact fetal development.
8) Retinyl Palmitate is still used in about 15% of all sunscreens.
9) It may be correlated with an increase in the risk of skin cancer when used in sunscreen.
10) There are very few studies on the hormone-disruption & skin-health impacts of sunscreen chemicals.
11) The bar is still too low for UV-A protection in US products.
12) It’s so bad that 50% of all our sunscreens couldn’t even be sold in Europe.
13) Misleading claims of higher SPF are still out there, like anything over 50.
14) And more additives that reduce redness, but don’t protect you any more are being added to give people a false sense of security.
15) Sprays are still being sold & used.
16) This is despite evidence they just don’t provide enough coverage & thickness to protect you.
17) Just like UV-A protection, progress is slow.
18) In 2011, the FDA said they would ban them if improvements weren’t made, but they’re still sold today.
The Best Sunscreens Are Still Imperfect. -A Few Sun-Safety Considerations:
1) The best thing you can do to protect yourself still goes beyond just sunscreen.
2) Stay out of the sun between 10AM and 4PM.
3) Wear longer clothing for protection. It blocks up to 27% of UV rays; especially important are things like long-sleeve shirts and hats.
4) There is even special summer clothing treated with UV-blockers right in the fabric.
5) Stay in the shade as much as you can.
6) If you have to create your own shade with an umbrella or sun-tarp, do it.
7) Don’t forget your Eyes! You can get UV damage in them too. So Sunglasses are not really optional.
8) Make sure not to get burned if you can avoid it at all.
9) Always check the UV Index for the day & maybe don’t go out, or delay going out until later if it’s unusually-high.
10) Last but not least: Check the dates on the sunscreen you do have. It does expire, and the new stuff you replace it with could be even better!
So go ahead and check out the EWG’s list of the best sunscreens, especially as mineral-based ones that protect against UV-A become more prevalent, and they all get a little bit safer for us to use.
Photo Credits: “Last Summer”, by Bob Smith
• Source: EWG’s 2018 Sunscreen Report
• More Coverage: EWG’s List of Approved Beach & Sport Sunscreens | CDC – Sun Safety Recommendations