How Well Is Your Sunscreen Really Working?

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You slather on your SPF everyday thinking you’re doing what Martha Stewart would classify as “A Good Thing”; you’re protecting your skin, right? Wrong. You may think your sunscreen is doing its job, but the bad news is, it might not be working as hard as you think – and could even be bad for your skin.

According to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG, ewg.org), 3 out of 5 name-brand sunscreens “either don’t protect skin from sun damage or contain hazardous chemicals — or both.”

It turns out the FDA doesn’t require UVA filters (to block the progression of skin cancer and aging) in sunscreens, and most manufacturers have never included them, or provided little protection from them, in their formulations. The alarming fact is most sunscreens only protect from UVB, or sunburn radiation, even though a growing number of studies show that UVA rays (which penetrate the skin more deeply) are more harmful.

Hazardous chemicals, such as oxybenzone, are also not recommended to protect skin from the sun as it has been known to lead to allergic reactions, cell damage, disruption of the hormone system, and allowing for other harmful chemicals to penetrate into the skin.

Based on this EWG study, here are three popular sunscreen you may reconsider using:


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Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock, SPF 30

While this sunscreen provides a high UVB protection factor, the UVA protection is on the moderate side. In addition, this formula contains Oxybezone as one of its main skin-protecting ingredients, thus making it a possible health hazard.

 

 

 


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Coppertone ultraGuard Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 30

The higher SPF is appealing, as is the water-resistant formulation. This too, however, has a low UVA protection factor, contains oxybenzone and fragrance ingredients that my cause skin irritation or sever allergic reactions.

 

 

 


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Jason Naturals Cosmetics Sunbrellas: Complete Sunblock, SPF 26

Aside from its low SPF, this “natural” sunscreen contains oxybenzone and provides moderate protection from UVA and UVB radiation. On the positive side, it does contain zinc and titanium, two recommended ingredients for sun-protection.

 

 

 

EWG recommends the following three sunscreens based on their study:

 

 


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Soleo Organics Sunscreen Organic Chemical-Free Sunscreen, SPF 30+

This water-restiant formula contains 22% zinc-oxide and highly protects from UVA and UVB rays. It moisturizes skin with grapeseed and sunflower oils, and is suitable for babies, children and adults alike. $24, futurenatural.com

 

 


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Mexitan Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

No need to worry when using this highly-rated sunscreen. Hypoallergenic and eco-friendly, you’ll find 22.5% zinc-oxide and 6% titanium dioxide as its main ingredients. $19.95, mexitan.com

 

 

 


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Badger Balm Sunscreen SPF 30

This sunscreen is highly recommended for providing a truly high UVA/UVB protection. You can enjoy it knowing that it also contains certified organic extra virgin olive and jojoba oil, cocoa butter, and wild African Shea butter. $15.99, amazon.com

 

 

 

 

See the entire list of sunscreens here.

 

By the end of the year, it will be easier to know which sunscreens give you the most protection; the FDA will be requiring an additional “star rating system” to be added to the normal SPF number on packaging. Ranking sunscreens from 1 to 4 stars, these ratings will be based on two tests that determine the effectiveness of a sunscreen’s UVA protection. These tests are similar to the SPF test that is used to determine the effectiveness of UVB protection. 

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Next: Find out our favorite sunscreens that made the grade

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