Not all sunscreens are equal and in this Annapolis Primary Care Update, Evolve Medical presents the Best and Worst Sunscreens as determined by Consumer Reports and the Environment Working Group (EWG).
Did you know that fully 1/3 of the sunscreens tested did not pass their testing? Or that only 15 of the 34 tested were recommended? Or did you know that SPF protection tops out at 30-50 and you should not trust SPF over 50? As we go through the hottest days of summer here in Annapolis, sun protection becomes more and more important.
Perhaps the most alarming discovery this year was the list of 11 sunscreens that the Environment Working Group specifically labeled as “Worst 11 Sunscreens for Kids”. Most notable on this list is a very common Neutrogena product: Wet Skin Kids Beach and Pool. Although the Kroger brand name doesn’t come up in the Annapolis area, Banana Boat and Coppertone are frequently seen at kiddie pools. The EWG also specifically recommends avoiding the following:
- Spray sunscreens:They can be inhaled and don’t cover skin completely.
- SPF values above 50+ – They try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. Useful SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.
- Oxybenzone – This common ingredient can disrupt the hormone system.
- Retinyl palmitate – Here’s another ingredient to avoid. It may actually trigger skin damage on sun-exposed skin.
11 Worst Sunscreens for Kids (EWG):
- Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Kids Max Protect & Play Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
- Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70+
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Kroger Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Kroger Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
- Up & Up Kid’s Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Best for Children
Most physicians the use physical barriers — SPF clothing, umbrellas, and shades — rather than lotions on babies younger than 6 months old. Over 6 months old, the definitive “Best Of” list was developed by The Environmental Working Group.
At the top of its list are sunscreens using zinc or titanium for the best UVA/UVB protection without the use of such harmful chemicals.
- Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick, SPF 50
- MDSolarSciences Mineral Lotion For Face and Body Sunscreen, SPF 50
- Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen, SPF 50+
- Honest Sunscreen
- Health Food Store Find: Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, Chamomile and Calendula, SPF 30
- Thinkbaby Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sunscreen For Kids, Unscented, SPF 45
- TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30+
The Best 15 Sunscreens for Adults (Consumer Reports):
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk, SPF 60 (only one that scored full 100%)
- Vichy Capital Soleil 50 Lightweight Foaming Lotion, SPF 50, at $5.94 an ounce
- Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50, at $1.31 an ounce
- Equate Ultra Protection, SPF 50, at $.56 an ounce
- No-Ad Sport SPF 50, at $.63 an ounce
- Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish, SPF 30, at $1 an ounce
- Aveeno Protect+Hydrate, SPF 30, at $3.33 an ounce
- Up & Up Ultra Sheer, SPF 30, at $1.63 an ounce
- Banana Boat SunComfort Continuous Spray, SPF 50+, at $1.83 an ounce
- L’Oreal Quick Dry Sheer Finish (spray) 50+, at $2.44 an ounce
- Coppertone Sport High Performance AccuSpray, SPF 30, at $1.58 an ounce
- Equate Sport Continuous Spray, SPF 30, at $1.33 an ounce
- Coppertone UltraGuard, SPF 70+, at $1.38 an ounce
- Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection, SPF 70, at $1.62 an ounce
- Caribbean Breeze Continuous Tropical Mist (spray), SPF 70, at $2.75 an ounce
None–apparently. According to Consumer Reports, “so-called naturals are less likely to offer skin the complete protection it needs.” They tested five mineral sunscreens and three failed. Of the two that did meet their SPF claim, neither received enough high scores to be recommended including California Baby Super Sensitive SPF 30+, and Goddess Garden Organics Sunny Body Natural 30.
Want to learn more? Great–and more detailed–information is available at UVA Awareness, The American Academy of Dermatologist and the EPA.gov. The latter, EPA.gov, links directly to a wonderful monograph called “Sun Wise” and is highly recommended.