it’s that time of year again

when the EWG come out with their sunscreen recomendations. Never shy to take advantage of any circumstances to their, well, advantage, they’ve made a neat clever move to one-up the FDA (who’ve given companies several months’ extension on implementing new guidelines that were supposed to come into force this June). Result: ladies and gentlemen, the EWG is officially and formally The Sunscreen Authority.

What’s that? They have no legal standing in the US? And are irrelevant everywhere else in the world? Pish. What, hadn’t you realised that we’re all now part of the great American empire, by corporate consumerist capitalist colonization? Sweet pea, welcome to the real world.

Fuckwit idiocractic zombies of the world unite, you have nothing but your—scratch that, you have and are nothing—to lose.

Anyway. Here’s some first reactions to the AMAZEBALLS ZOMG EWG 2012 SUNSCREEN REPORT BREAKING NEWS from Makeup Alley’s skincare board…

jetfan reports (5/15/2012 10:43AM):

“Is your Sunscreen Safe?” Warning: EWG:)

Is your sunscreen safe? It’s sunscreen shopping season and the just-released 2012 Sunscreen Guide published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) helps steer consumers toward healthy, affordable choices. This year’s guide rates over 1,800 sunscreens (for both adults and kids), lip balms, and moisturizers and cosmetics with SPF. The leading cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and, according to the National Cancer Institute, over one million people are diagnosed a year.

Often people grab whatever sunscreen is labeled with the highest SPF and assume it’s the best. The EWG guide warns shoppers that choosing a safe product isn’t just about the numbers. Their research spotlights potential health hazards:

Dangerous ingredients. Retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A) may cause tumors and lesions to develop more quickly when skin is exposed to the sun. Nneka Leiba, Senior Research Analyst and the guide’s lead author, tells Shine, “The FDA and National Toxicology both say it may heighten risk of skin damage and cancer.” Oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and can cause allergic reactions. EWG recommends choosing products with one of these ingredients instead: zinc, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, or Mexoryl S.

Sprays or powders. These formulations can fill the air with tiny particles that EWG says are dangerous to inhale. They can cause lung inflammation and may be carcinogenic.

SPF values above 50+. The FDA says these labels are misleading and may encourage people to stay out in the sun for too long. Since SPF is based only on UVB protection (which prevents sunburn but does not guard against premature aging and deeper tissue damage), users of super high SPF products often have a false sense of security.

Related: The 10 Biggest Skin Mistakes You Can Make

The guide comes on the heels of a recent announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that they will give sunscreen manufacturers an additional six months to comply with guidelines that were that were outlined in June, 2011 and were aimed to ending confusion about sunscreen labeling. The FDA guidelines, which were to go into effect June 18, encouraged companies to use ingredients that protect against both UVB and UVA rays, required warning labels on products with lower than an SPF 14 rating, and banned manufacturers from using unsubstantiated terms such as “waterproof,” “sunblock,” and claims of “all-day protection.”

Since the FDA guidelines now won’t go into effect until long past beach season, the EWG Sunscreen Guide is your best bet for finding effective products.

The EWG recommends avoiding these sunscreens because they are spays or powders, have SPF values above 50+, and contain retinyl palmitate and/or oxybenzone.

  • Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Body Mist Sunblock, SPF 70
  • Banana Boat Sport Performance Active MAX Protect Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
  • Aveeno Continuous Protection Sunblock Spray Active, SPF 70
  • Wegmans Sheer Sunscreen Body Mist, SPF 55
  • Rite Aid Extreme Sport Continuous Spray, SPF 70+
  • CVS Sheer Mist Sunscreen, SPF 70
  • Walgreens Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Sport Clear

And the “best” rated Sunscreens:

  • Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
  • BabyGanics Cover Up Baby Sunscreen for Face & Body, Fragrance Free, SPF 50+
  • Sunbow Dora the Explorer Sunscreen, Pink, SPF 30
  • Purple Prairie Botanicals SunStuff Mineral Lotion, SPF 30
  • Nature’s Gate Aqua Block Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
  • Solbar Shield Sunscreen, SPF 40
  • Caribbean Solutions Sol Kid Kare Biodegradable Sunscreen, SPF 25
  • Tropical Sands Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • KidsUV Natural Sunscreen, Blue, SPF 30
  • Color Me Pink Baby UV/ Kids UV 100% Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Alba Botanica Natural Very Emollient Sunblock, Kids Mineral Protection, SPF 30
  • Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Face, SPF 30+
  • Healing-Scents Live Long Mineral-Based Sunscreen, SPF 25
  • Hara Body Care Hara Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Vanicream Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 35

All of the above meet the following criteria:

  • Good, stable sun protection
  • Fewest ingredients with toxicity concerns. Do not contain the worst offenders: retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone.
  • No sprays or powders
  • No SPF values above 50+




  1. anna3101

    I don’t understand what’s wrong with those recommendations. I have no idea what EWG is or how it works, but common sense tells me that vitamin A and sun are not a good combination. Same goes for +50 SPF creams. Many people abuse them or think they give a 100% guarantee the sun won’t even touch your skin 🙂 Am I missing something?

    • gingerama

      Hi, good to hear from you again!

      1. On the EWG: the Environmental Working Group. They’re easily Googlable, and I’ve commented (at considerable length) about them on here: indeed, this blog has (alas) a whole category devoted to the EWG.

      2. Sun and vitamin A: nope, not just a matter of common sense. The quantity of vit A in most suncreens (the ones containing it) is minute; not enough to act as more than another antioxidant (actually boosting sun protection).

      3. SPF50+: yes, I totally agree, people do abuse them. Usually because they don’t understand how SPF works and apply them wrong. There was some good research on that recently and an infographic circulating, I think I posted up about it a while back… but the end result was that not applying enough or evenly resulted in very low protection (ex. SPF 30 because SPF 5 to 8). And it can only be one part of a total multiple defence system: there’s no susbstitute for the excellent Australian approach and campaign: Slip-Slop-Slap and Wrap:
      slip on a shirt (or otherwise cover up)
      + slop on sunscreen
      + slap on a hat
      + and wear sunglasses (I think in the original it was “slide on some sunnies”)
      + and seek shade

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