Sunscreen is supposed to protect us from cancer, but a new report from the Environmental Working Group claims that many products don't do what they're supposed to. Some sunscreens contains ingredients that might even trigger skin tumors and lesions, according to the EWG's 2010 Sunscreen Guide.
The EWG recommends just 39 (8%) of 500 beach and sport sunscreens tested for the guide. Why do so many sunscreens get a mark of disapproval? A number of reasons--SPF claims above 50 can't be substantiated; the FDA believes that a form of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate, found in 41% of sunscreens, could speed up skin damage and increase skin cancer risk when applied to the face, arms, legs, back, and chest; and many sunscreens contain oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting compound that enters the bloodstream through the skin.
This is partially the fault of the FDA, which has promised--and failed to deliver on--regulations for sunscreen. The organization claims that regulations might be issued as soon as next October, but manufacturers will have at least a year to comply. In the meantime, which sunscreens can we trust?
The EWG's top picks include Badger Sunscreen Face Stick, Purple Praire Botanicals Sun Stick, California Baby Sunblock Stick, and All Terrain Aquasport Performance Sunscreen. The biggest offenders--all of which contain Vitamin A and oxybenzone--include Rx Suncare Sport Sunblock, Rocky Mountain Sunscreen High Exposure, and philosophy shelter broad spectrum sunscreen for face and body. The full rankings are available here.