Sunday, May 29, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

Now that beach season is here, have you thought about sunscreen? I never did - just get the easiest stuff to apply. However, last year we got this spray on stuff that destroyed everything it touched, and even stained the kids' skin! So I did some looking and discovered many of the sunscreens we use contain chemicals which are kind of nasty - and by nasty I mean mutagens! No way I want to put that on my kids!

So I did some looking. Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a good list of the "best" sunscreens rated by effectiveness and also safety of ingredients. Their information looks sound, and they publish their methodology for assessing sunscreens, which appears to be quite well thought out. They recommend sunscreens based on titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide rather than chemicals like oxybenzone, since these metal oxidess are effective at blocking UV and relatively harmless to humans and animals. Some info from their report Sunscreens Exposed:
Poor UVA protection

Three of five U.S. sunscreens wouldn’t be acceptable in Europe. EWG’s analysis of more than 500 beach and sport sunscreens with SPF ratings of 30 and higher finds that more than 300 of them, about 60 percent, provide inadequate UVA protection and are too weak for the European market, where manufacturers voluntarily comply with a standard for meaningful UVA protection.

Risky vitamin A additives

Many sunscreen makers still use a form of vitamin A, called retinyl palmitate, ignoring recent scientific research by the federal Food and Drug Administration indicating the chemical may be photocarcinogenic – that it may heighten skin cancer risk when used on sun-exposed skin. While more definitive research is under way, EWG recommends that prudent consumers avoid vitamin A-laden sunscreens.
Which was a surprise to me, since I always figures vitamins are "natural" and "good". Here's some recommendations from their list of best beach and sport sunscreens.
These are just a random sampling of the hundred or so they recommend. EWG has obviously put in a lot of work to make this list. The hardest part, with so many products available with similar names, is finding the exact product in the store.

So check out the list and choose a sunscreen wisely this summer.


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