One of the most popular posts that I have made is the one on sunscreens so I thought that it was a good idea to give you an update. Today on Treehugger they gave out some great information along with the results of the Enviornmental Working Groups study on sunscreens. I think that this is a very hot topic -- should you use sunscreen or not? What about vitamin D? What about the ingredients in sunscreen? I think that this article in Treehugger gives us some firm answers and helps you to make the decision for you and your family what is best. It is very important to look at the environmental working groups list of sunblocks and see how your sunblock rates!

Treehuggers article (or click here to see full article and links):
by Pablo Päster

Does Your Sunscreen Have You Covered?
The sun produces a wide spectrum of light, including the three bands of ultra-violet light that we call UVA (400-315 nm), UVB (315-280 nm), and UVC (280-100 nm). UVB is the band of light that causes sunburns and the only category of UV that sunblock is regulated for by the US FDA. Unfortunately for us, UVB only represents 4% of the UV radiation entering the atmosphere and UVA is much more responsible for causing skin cancer, premature skin aging, and other skin damage. Since UVA protection is not regulated by the FDA, many claims of UVA protection are not credible. Either the UVA protection is insufficient, or the active ingredient degrades too rapidly when exposed to sunlight, leaving you with inadequate protection after some time.

An additional concern is actually too much coverage. UVB light is required by the skin to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency seems to be the new medical buzzword and 30-50% of the US population are said to be affected by it.

Carcinogens and Hormone Disruptors In Your Sunscreen?
Some sunscreens, like Coppertone ultraGuard Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 15) contain oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is used because it blocks UVA and UVB but it gets absorbed into the skin, acting as a photosensitizer. Because of this it is believed to be a likely photocarcinogen. As if that weren't enough, oxybenzone is also a hormone disruptor that has been found in the urine of 97% of Americans over the age of six (CDC). Fortunately there has been a decrease in the use of oxybenzone but it is still approved by the FDA for use in sunscreen.

An additional area of concern are nanoparticles. Nano-sized (<100>

What Can You Do To Protect Your Family?
In order to protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun and the unintended consequences of using some sunscreens here are a few suggestions.

  • More is not better: Sunscreens rated with SPF 55-100+ block just 1-2% more sunburn rays than an SPF 30 rated sunscreen.
  • Check your sunscreen: Find your sunscreen here and dispose of it properly if it doesn't pass muster.
  • Sunscreen loses its effectiveness. Check the manufacturer's date stamp and replace it if it is expired.
  • When you buy sunscreen follow Environmental Working Group's list of recommended sunscreens.
  • Look for sunscreens with avobenzone, Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, and zinc for UVA coverage.
  • Avoidance is best. If you don't have to be out in the sun between 10am and 4pm, stay in the shade.
  • The best sunscreen is the kind you wear. Outdoor clothing manufacturers are producing SPF-rated clothing to keep you comfortable and sunburn free.

Thank you Treehugger for providing this great information!

Environmental Working Groups list of sunblocks (it takes awhile for it to come up because it's a long list of over 1800 products)- find your sunblock on this list and you can see if you need to throw it away or keep! It's that simple. There are only FIVE sunblocks listed that get a zero (0) rating which is the best! -- on the other hand there are 48 who receive an eight (8) which is the worst rating! alarming isn't it... When I look at the basket at my kids school every one of those products are listed in the range from 6 to 8, Neutrogena, Aveeno baby... it's all there in black and white. You can click on each of the products to see what it is that is giving the product a low (or high) score and you can see immediately those with Oxybenzone (including Neutrogena and Aveeno baby!)

click here to read Treehuggers article
click here to go to the Enviornmental Working Groups study
click here to visit the list of sunblocks and their ratings