Sunscreens That Shine 2012

A Greene Westford column re-posted.

With the prices varying as wildly as the claims, you need to keep up to date on sunscreens.

The weather is heating up and the fourth of July festivities are upon us.  This is usually when people start to think about sunscreen.  Last year, Sunscreens That Shine talked about why the sun is damaging and how the chemicals in some sunscreens can be harmful as well.
Each year more research is done as consumers demand for more information on products they use every day.  In June 2011, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) ordered changes made to sunscreen labeling to attempt to clear up confusion over which sunscreens provided protection for both UVA and UVB rays and how long they lasted when you get wet.  Those rules were supposed to be in effect this month.  Unfortunately, the FDA pushed back the deadline for major manufacturers to December 2012.
These new regulations will help somewhat, but you still need to do your own research.  Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates many sunscreens for effectiveness and safety.  This year they rated over 1800.  EWG takes into consideration the sunscreen efficacy (how well it protects against the sun) and health hazard about equally – although in some cases it weights the efficacy higher.  Consumer Reports also rates sunscreens on their efficacy alone.  Did you know you can get access to Consumer Reports online databases through the J.V. Fletcher library for free
Oxybenzone ( a common ingredient in sunscreens) continues to cause concern.  Consumer Reports cautions “Oxybenzone may interfere with hormones in the body, and nanoscale zinc and titanium oxides have been linked to potential reproductive and developmental effects.”
As for sprays Consumer Reports states “Spray carefully. The FDA has said it is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens. Avoid using sprays on children, and spray sunscreen onto your hands to apply it to your face.”  
Most of the safest choices are only available online.  However, here is a list of some more commonly found sunscreens that still rate low on the danger scale.   I was able to find quite a few of these in Westford at CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens.   Each product is given a value from 0 to 10, where 0 is the best (has the least harmful ingredients and protects against the sun) and 10 the worst. The number is parentheses is the EWG rating.
  • Elemental Herbs (1) – Available at The Whole Body Spa
  • Kiss My Face Kids SPF 30 Sun Stick (pink, blue, white) (1)
  • Coppertone Kids Pure and Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (2)
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (2)
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (2)
  • Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick SPF 50+ (2)
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (3)
  • Walgreens Baby Pure and Gentle Sunscreen Stick SPF 60+ (3)
  • Walgreens Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 45 (3)
  • Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50+ (3)
Coppertone must have reformulated since last year.  All of the Coppertone products listed last year were rated at a 3 and now are a 2, plus they made the EWG Best Sunscreen list.  Consumer Reports also rates Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 highly.
I used Elemental Herbs all last summer.  It worked great and didn’t clog my pores!
[Top Photo used under Creative Commons license by Robert S. Donovan/Flickr]

4 Responses to Sunscreens That Shine 2012

  1. Emily July 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    I’m surprised to see Coppertone & Walgreens on this list!

  2. All Natural Katie July 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    I went through a whole slew of research two summers ago once I discovered EWG’s Cosmetic Database. I have been using Badger’s sunscreen, which is one of the lowest rated by EWG. My husband is not a fan of the thickness, so he has been using Aveeno’s (still have some synthetic ingredients), and now I switched him to Episencial’s sunscreen. He likes that it goes on lighter.

  3. Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) July 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Thanks for the suggestions Katie. I have been having a tough time finding a sunscreen that works without having horrible ingredients.

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