Annual Guide to Sunscreens



ecently, the Environmental Working Group released its 15th annual Guide to Sunscreens, which you

can view at This year, EWG researchers rated the

safety and efficacy of more than 1,800 products that advertise sun protection – including recreational sunscreens, daily- use SPF products and lip balms with SPF – and found that only 25 percent of the products reviewed offer adequate protec- tion and do not contain worrisome ingre- dients like oxybenzone, a potential hor- mone-disrupting chemical that is readily absorbed by the body. Although fewer products are now made with the active ingredient oxyben- zone, which is detected in the body of nearly every American, it was still found in just under 40 percent of non-mineral

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sunscreens. This occurrence is down from 60 percent of the non-mineral SPF prod- ucts just two years ago. “For 15 years, EWG has warned con- sumers about the health hazards linked to oxybenzone and other potentially harmful ingredients used in sunscreens,” said Nneka Leiba, EWG vice president of healthy living science. “It’s gratifying to continue to see companies reformulating their SPF products to move away from these concerning ingredients.” In December 2020, the National

Toxicology Program published a study on oxybenzone that raised more concerns about the potential for long-term health effects, finding an increased rate of thyroid tumors in female rats potentially linked to exposure. And at the end of March, the European Commission, which reviews

ingredient safety in Europe, published a final opinion finding oxybenzone unsafe for use at current levels. The European Commission’s preliminary opinion for homosalate also found it unsafe for use at current levels. “Yet again, the 2021 sunscreen market

is flooded with products that use poten- tially harmful ingredients and provide poor UVA protection,” Leiba said. “EWG’s guide is one of the only tools available to help consumers find products that provide adequate protection and are made without ingredients that may pose health concerns. “U.S. sunscreens will not sufficiently

improve until the Food and Drug Admin- istration sets stronger regulations, restricts the use of harmful chemicals and approves new active ingredients that offer stronger UVA and UVB protection without concern

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