According to the latest analysis from scientists at Environmental Working Group (EWG), only 16% of sunscreen products are both safe and effective (i.e., they’ll protect you from sunburn and skin cancer, remain stable in sunlight, and contain few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards).
Among the chief concerns:
* Sunscreens break down in the sun. Parodoxically, says EWG, many sunscreen ingredients break down in a matter of minutes or hours, and then let UV radiation through to the skin.
* Questionable product claims are widespread. At least 48% of products on the market bear claims that are considered "unacceptable" or misleading under the Food and Drug Administration’s draft sunscreen safety standards. Claims like "all day protection," "mild as water," and "blocks all harmful rays" are not true, yet are found on bottles.
* Many sunscreens contain nano-scale ingredients that raise potential concerns. Though micronized and nano-scale zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreen provide strong UVA protection, studies on nanotechnology question their unique, toxic properties. Options available in Europe could replace nano-scale ingredients here in the U.S., but the Food and Drug Administration has been slow to approve them.
Thumbs UP: Despite these issues, you have at least 128 safe options, according to EWG, including Blue Lizard Australian Suncream SPF 30/Baby, California Baby Water-Resistant Hypo-Allergenic Sunscreen SPF 30-plus and Aveeno Baby Sunblock Lotion Continuous Protection SPF 55.
See the entire database of recommendations at Environmental Working Group.