Twenty-five percent of 800 tested sunscreens are effective at protecting your skin without the use of potentially harmful ingredients, according to the 2012 Sunscreen Guide released Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group.
To make the watchdog group’s safe list, sunscreens must be free of oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate (a type of vitamin A), not have SPF above 50 and protect against UVA and UVB sunrays. Although The American Academy of Dermatology says oxybenzone is safe. “Oxybenzone is one of the few FDA-approved ingredients that provides effective broad spectrum protection from UV radiation, and has been approved for use since 1978,” said Dr. Daniel M. Siegel, president of the academy. The Environmental Working Group and other toxicology experts believe that oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and potentially to cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. The Environmental Working Group says 56% of beach and sport sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone. The primary function of oxybenzone is to absorb ultraviolet light, but some research shows oxybenzone can be absorbed through the skin. The Environmental Working Group also warns consumers to avoid retinyl palminate. Government-funded studies have found that this particular type of vitamin A may increase risk of skin cancer when used on sun-exposed skin. However, these reports have been in mice and evidence has been inconclusive for humans.
SPF is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Here’s how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer — about five hours. Studies show that sunscreen with SPF 15 can block about 93% of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97%. SPF 50 blocks 98%. A product with SPF 100+ blocks about 99.1 percent of the UVB rays. The Environmental Working Group said consumers should not purchase sunscreens with SPF greater than 50. SPF (sun protection factor) works by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun’s rays on the skin.
You can go to the site and see if your sunscreen is listed or to find a sunscreen that is safe and will work for you EWG list