Is Your Sunscreen Healthy? Mine Wasn't

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by Kerry A.

My previous post about FDA regulations on sunscreen had me wondering, how do I know if the sunscreen I'm using for my family is good enough? Of course, I have my trusted brands, but how do I really know they are living up to the promise that is stated on the bottle?

Luckily, there are groups out there dedicated to researching this very topic.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently published their fourth annual Sunscreen Guide, and in it they recommend only 39 of the 500 sunscreens studied. EWG uses two primary red (negative) flags.  

One is the inclusion of a form of Vitamin A called retinyl palmitate.  Currently, the FDA is investigating whether this compound may accelerate skin damage and elevate skin cancer risks. Forty-one percent of sunscreens tested had retinyl palmitate in them.

The second red flag is the inclusion of oxybenzone, which is a chemical that can be absorbed through the skin, enter the blood stream and remain for an unknown amount of time. Currently, there are no studies showing a direct relationship between oxybenzone in sunscreen and negative skin health consequences. However,  It is certainly a scary thought that this chemical is being absorbed into our systems and causing unknown effects.

Of the 39 sunscreens earning the “green” rating, all of them contain the minerals zinc or titanium. Zinc is known to help with cellular functions, immune system and other things, and titanium is known to help stabilize the body's flow of energy. 

So, how did my three sunscreens score on the ewg.org scales? Sadly, none of them were in the choice group of 39.

  Neutrogena Ultra Sheer One Touch Sunscreen Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Neutrogena Waterguard Kids Sunscreen
  Neutrogena, Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SPF 30 Coppertone, Water Babies SPF 50 Neutrogena, Water Kids SPF 70+
Overall  Score 7 3 7
UVB Protection Good Excellent Excellent
UVA Protection Moderate Good Moderate
UVB/UVA Balance Good Good Moderate
Sunscreen Stability High Moderate Excellent
Other Concerns Contains oxybenzone and vitamin A   contains oxybenzone, misleading SPF


I will be throwing out two of my 3 choices, which surprises me, since Neutrogena has made a pretty good name for themselves as being skin friendly. I will definitely be tossing out the Neutrogena kids product. Any harmful chemical I can shield my daughter's body from is a worth the effort. It doesn't take a genius or a list of professional skin health tips to figure that one out.

So what did make the EWG’s "green" list?  Brands such as All Terrain, Badger, Beyond Coastal, California Baby, Desert Essence, Jason Natural Cosmetics and more.  It's nice to see a few natural health options in the group, and even happier that Swanson carries several of them. Jason Natural Cosmetics (scored the coveted green badge), while Alba Botanica, Desert Essence and Kiss My Face also scored well.


Sources:
http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/9-surprising-facts-about-sunscreen
http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/full-report
http://www.webmd.com
http://www.washingtonpost.com


comments powered by Disqus