I’m very appreciative of the folks at EWG (Environmental Working Group) for their hard work to help parents decipher through the toxic world of cosmetics, bath products, sunscreens and more. A few days ago, EWG issued a news release stating they only recommend 8 percent of all sunscreens. The reasons are exaggerated SPF claims and new developments in understanding possible hazards of some sunscreen ingredients – in particular Vitamin A. Equally helpful is finding a business owner that has done their research on products they sell. I often turn to Gwen, the owner of the web-based Nayla Natural Care to help me because she knows her stuff and I trust her. She has been great with providing information on the confusing topic of nanoparticles and sunscreen. This is one of the 9 ‘surprise truths‘ released by EWG so I’d like to start by summarizing some of the new – must read data listed on the EWG site. Some of the other ‘surprising truths’ in this article were kinda shocking for me and I encourage all parents to read the article in full.
All of the numbered bullets is direct research and quotes from the EWG site.
1) The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the FDA concur that “FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer”. The IARC recommends clothing, hats and shade as primary barrier to UV radiation and sunscreen should not be the first choice for cancer prevention. Read more here.
2) Some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of melanoma among sunscreen users. Scientists speculate that sunscreen users stay out in the sun longer or poor UVA protection over the last 30 years may have led to this surprising outcome. More info here.
3) In 2007 the FDA published draft regulations that would prohibit companies from labeling sunscreens higher than SPF 50+ because these values were misleading. ** Note from Suzanne – check out the article called Hall of Shame from EWG and lists Banana Boat Baby Max Protect, SPF = 100+ as a product with sky-high SPF protecting against sunburn but leaves skin exposed to damaging UVA rays. Think of how many parents read the title of the sunscreen and see the SPF 100+ and think they are giving their child the best sunscreen protection…it makes my stomach turn. ** More info here.
4) Adding to the confusion is the fact that sunshine serves a critical function in the body that sunscreen appears to inhibit – production of vitamin D. Read more info here.
5) The common sunscreen ingredient Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) may speed up the development of skin tumors and lesions. Troubling because the sunscreen industry adds vitamin A to 41 percent of all sunscreens. Read more info here.
6) Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors. The major choice is between chemical sunscreens which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems and “mineral” sunscreens (zinc and titanium) which often contain micronized or nanoscale particles of those minerals. More info here.
7) Europe’s better sunscreens. Sunscreen makers in Europe can select from among 27 chemicals for their formulations, compared to 17 in the US companies. Companies selling in Europe can add any of seven UVA filters to their products, but have a choice of only three when they market in the US. Read more here.
Some new information for some people I’m sure. I’m even surprised by the strong emphasis from EWG on the focus of shade, clothing, and hats over sunscreen this year. Plus, more than ever the EWG’s new calculations for recommending safer sunscreens really eliminates more traditional sunscreen products and organic sunscreens on shelves today. Follow the quick tips for sourcing good sunscreen from EWG to best understand ingredients and products to avoid or look for:
Sunscreen ingredients to avoid: Oxybenzone, Vitamin A, added insect repellent
Sunscreen products to avoid: Spray, powders, SPF above 50+
Look for these sunscreen ingredients: Zinc, Titanium dioxide, Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX
Look for these sunscreen products: Cream, broad spectrum protection, water resistant for beach, pool and exerice, SPF 30 + for beach & pool.
For a full list of all of these tips in one great guide – download the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Safer Sunscreens and post it where parents, co-workers, or family will see it. There are some wonderful tips that should be reviewed before the hot weather arrives for all of us.
Please check out next article on the topic of Nanoparticles from Gwen in our next post ~ Sunscreen Surprising Truths Part II. Gwen, the business owner of Nayla Natural Care continues to get more of my business because her sunscreen picks for the last few years have also been top picks from EWG. Join us while she breaks down the mystery behind nanoparticles in sunscreen.