With a simple Google Search for “Best Sunscreens” I find fashion mag “Allure” saying: “SPF is just one factor in choosing (and wearing) a sunscreen. How a sunblock smells, feels, and works with your makeup determines whether you’ll actually rub it in” and lists their “ten dream creams to try this summer.”
Personally I look beyond fashion and instead utlize the wisdom of “The Environmental Working Group” (or EWG), the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization who says:
“An ideal sunscreen would block the majority of UVA and UVB rays with active ingredients that do not break down in the sun, so that the product remains effective. It would also contain only active and inactive ingredients that are proven to be completely safe for both adults and children.”
While there is no magic-bullet on the U.S. market that meets all these criteria for sunscreen, EWG created a guide to safer and more effective sunscreens – so you can check out how your current product measures up, or find something new if it’s not making the grade.
They’ve also got a killer list of what to avoid here. But check out the Reader’s Digest version below:
- Continuous spray sunscreens. Don’t let the ease of the product take precendence over safety. There’s a huge potential of inhaling chemicals and it’s hard to tell if all parts of exposed skin is covered. Stick to lotions you rub in.
- Tanning oil suncreens. These usually contain a lower SPF and the general recommendation is broad spectrum SPF30 and water resistant. (“Waterproof” is a misnomer that doesn’t really exist anymore.) Besides, most oil promote sun exposure – and isn’t that what we’re trying to limit?
- Super High SPF Sunscreens: SPF30 is the recommended SPF because it blocks 97 percent of the sun’s rays. EWG says High-SPF products may tempt people to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburns but upping the risk of other kinds of skin damage. Apply sunscreen often and don’t be fooled by marketing ploys. If you’re looking for SPF100 – put on a long sleeve shirt or go inside.
- Suncreen wipes: For good reasons, these and towelettes were banned in 2011. If you’ve still got them on hand, upcycle them into something useful for the summer, like stuffing for a Parade Float.
And it’s obvious that cancer prevention and skin safety goes beyond a good sunscreen. Check out EWG’s 9 Surprising Facts About Sunscreen to get even more up to date info on safety in the sun and for your skin.