Sunscreen’s “Hall of Shame”
It is that time of year again: time to load up on sunscreens! I am planning a trip to the store today because I’m almost out, and checked out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) website to get some good options. This website is awesome. You can search for good options as well as see how your sunscreen rates. We are slathering it all over our kid’s skin and owe it to them to make sure we are picking good products!
I have written about this before. Check out last year’s post here to get a quick overview of the chemicals and other issues in typical sunscreens.
In the mean time, have fun with this: EWG’s “Hall of Shame” – a quick list of the worst offenders. Hope yours isn’t on there!
Hawaiian Tropic Baby Stick Sunscreen SPF 50
Hawaiian Tropic’s website claims “Less Chemical Sunscreens” for this baby sunscreen stick. Truth is, it contains two chemicals to that don’t belong on a baby’s skin – the hormone disruptor oxybenzone and a form vitamin A called retinyl palmitate. A recent federal government study shows retinyl palmitate may speed up the growth of skin tumors.
The final straw? The UVA protection factor for this sunscreen is less than 10 – a far cry from the 50 SPF plastered on the package. It’s not good enough to be sold in Europe.
Baby Blanket SunBlankie Towelette SPF 45+
If the FDA’s proposed rating system were in force today, it would earn only one of four stars for UVA protection, according to EWG’s analysis. It doesn’t have enough UVA protection to meet European standards.
Your baby’s skin may not get burned, but UVA rays could penetrate it and cause skin damage that would accumulate, possibly triggering cancer later in life.
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70+
But scientists who have researched its key sunscreen chemical, oxybenzone, warn against using it over large surfaces of skin and over many hours. These warnings are particularly strong for young children who don’t eliminate toxic chemicals from their bodies as readily as adults and who have more skin relative to their body weight than adults.
Oxybenzone readily seeps through the skin and into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body.
This Coppertone sunscreen is one of more than 20 sunscreens with the word “baby” in their name and the chemical oxybenzone on their ingredient lists. Don’t buy them. Plenty of safer products are available.
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 55
The label of this product says “mild as water” but it also warns, “Stop use and ask a doctor if rash or irritation develops and lasts.” The label adds, “keep out of reach of children” and “get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”
Aveeno’s failing rating comes from its main ingredient: oxybenzone. Like Coppertone’s Water Babies, little people shouldn’t be lathered in nasty chemicals. It is just too easy to pick a better product.
Banana Boat Sport Performance Active Max Protect, SPF 110
The letters SPF mean “sun protection factor” and refers only to protection against UVB radiation, which burns the skin. It has nothing to do UVA radiation that penetrates deep into the skin, accelerates skin aging and may cause skin cancer.
The actual UVA protection factor for this Banana Boat sunscreen is as low as 12. Don’t depend on it to shield your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Sunscreen makers are waiting for the FDA to approve more chemicals that could help boost UVA protection. In the meantime, high-SPF products may tempt people to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburns but upping the risks of UVA damage.
Also, hold your breath if you use this aerosol spray, or you’re likely to breathe in sunscreen chemicals that are meant for your skin.
Rite Aid Kids Sunscreen Spray Lotion SPF 45
On the front of the bottle, this products claims to be “NON-IRRITATING.” Check the reverse panel, though and you’ll see a different message: “Stop use and ask a doctor if rash or irritation develops and lasts.”
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends this spray as “an effective UV sunscreen,” but its UVA protection is too weak to earn a spot on store shelves in the European Union. If the FDA’s proposed UVA rating system takes effect as it is now written, Rite Aid Kids Sunscreen Spray Lotion SPF 45 would earn only one of four stars. Remember, just because it can stop a burn (UVB rays) doesn’t mean it is stopping skin damage (UVA rays).