Beware of Sunscreen?

Environmental Working Group Rates Sunscreen Safety

Summer officially starts today! When working as a nanny or au pair protecting children with sunscreen is a huge concern. Child caregivers must apply sunscreen on children when playing outdoors this summer.

But, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the first-ever, in-depth analysis of the safety and effectiveness of more than 700 name-brand sunscreens.

The new database lists products that offer the best combination of safety and effectiveness: they are formulated with the safest chemicals, are most effective at protecting against sunburn, and help prevent long-term damage caused by the sun’s UVA rays, which are linked to skin aging, wrinkling and, potentially, cancer.

The analysis found that 84 percent of 785 sunscreen products with an SPF rating of 15 or higher offer inadequate protection from the sun’s harmful rays, or contain ingredients with safety concerns.

Ironically, some popular sunscreen chemicals break down when exposed to sunlight and must be formulated with stabilizing chemicals. Others penetrate the skin and present significant health concerns.

It is scary to try to figure out which sunscreens to use. The FDA has already said that SPFs greater than 50 are misleading. It has even done research about the vitamin A in many brands and how it can accelerate the development of skin tumors and lesions.

“Always use sunscreen,” said Jane Houlihan, Vice President for Research at EWG, “but not all sunscreens are created equal.”

Houlihan continues, ”Our research shows that some products are far more effective than others, while presenting fewer safety concerns. Before we launched this website, the consumer had no way to identify the safest and most effective sunscreens.”

“The SPF rating on the product is helpful, but it is only part of what a consumer needs to know,” said Houlihan. “Our rating system includes critical information on UVA protection, how stable the product is in the sun, and potential health hazards of the product’s ingredients.”

The report and website rank products for combined safety and effectiveness, help consumers recognize bogus claims on sunscreen products, and provide tips for safety in the sun.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not finalized comprehensive sunscreen standards that have been in development for 29-years. When complete, these rules will standardize a rating system for UVA protection, and prohibit misleading and inaccurate claims such as “waterproof” and “lasts all day” that are commonly found on sunscreen products.

Top Sunscreens

The EWG top-rated sunscreens all contain the minerals zinc or titanium. They are the right choice for people who are looking for the best UVA protection without any sunscreen chemical considered to be a potential hormone disruptor. None of the products contain oxybenzone or vitamin A and none are sprayed or powdered.

Click here for the top sunscreens.


  1. There is an article related to this that I received a link on recently,

  2. Oh no, we do have some of these products in our diaper bag! Should I show this to the parents?

  3. Mom Boss put sunscreen on 3 month old yesterday! Pediatrician advises against it.

  4. When will it ever end? Always something being recalled or found out to be dangerous. Skin cancer is serious stuff and the FDA needs to get on board and start regulating sunscreens! Now to throw out the old and buy new products — AGAIN!

  5. Arbonne ABC Babycare Sunscreen should be on this list, but the line is not yet widely known. The entire line of products (babies to adults) is based on a pure, SAFE, and beneficial philosophy. When using a leading brand with my charges (supplied by their parents)the sunscreen permanently stained their white shirts yellow. I am a former Arbonne consultant, so I bought the ABC Sunscreen for the girls – no stains! Although I no longer build an Arbonne business – I only use their suncreen because I know it is safe.

  6. Scary stuff, skin cancer is no joke! Thanks for finding this resource. I will let my employers see this.

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