SPF: Sun Protection Falsehoods?

In 2008, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported that four out of five sunscreen products provided dangerously low levels of protection. The biggest issue, according to dermatologists, is the SPF rating system, which lacks any scientific standard. From the 1,000 products reviewed, a mere 143 brands were recommended. Most of these were less popular because they include ultraviolet-blocking ingredients like titanium and zinc, known for leaving a white residue on the skin.

Is your sunscreen really protecting you or just making you feel sticky?

Is your sunscreen really protecting you or just making you feel sticky?

But the EWG says that the sunscreen industry has changed its ways. In what they’re calling a “dramatic shift,” the number of UVA-blocking sunscreens available on the market has more than doubled since the summer of 2008. However, that still leaves something like one in nine sunscreens that offer inadequate levels of UVA protection. Be sure to check out the EWG’s list of best sunscreens.

Some other interesting and somewhat terrifying findings from the EWG:

  • Many all-day moisturizers promise SPF protection, but only one in five actually blocks dangerous UVA rays.
  • Sunscreens with SPF ratings between 55 and 100 only block 1 to 2% more UVB radiation than SPF 30 sunscreens, and are not required to block UVA rays. (UVB rays are generally considered more harmful.)
  • 42% of sunscreens contain oxybenzone, which has been shown to “disrupt the endocrine system and release reactive oxygen species that could contribute to skin cancer.”