4 Out of 5 Sunscreens Do Not Work

We take sun protection very seriously in our house since my husband had a few skin cancers removed a couple years ago. Dermatologists are saying to apply sunscreen every single day to help protect against skin cancer, so it’s highly disappointing to find out that 4 out 5 sunscreen do not do the job they say they do. Recently CNN and the New York Times reported on this issue.

The folks at the Environmental Working Group have published a report on the effectiveness of sunscreens. They studied 952 common sunscreens and found 4 out of 5 do not do their job. Some stats are dumbfounding, like of the 17 FDA approved active ingredients for sun protection, 4 of those breakdown very quickly when exposed to sunlight. How does this even make sense? One more check in my “why I am growing to despise the FDA” column. Additionally, 53% of sunscreen make claims on the bottle that are simply inaccurate and are terms the FDA has said are unacceptable terms or misleading. 

Here is a little summary on the EWG website, plus their recommended top 10 sunscreens that are safe and effective. They also offer a list of “common brand names” and specifically which product in that line is safe and effective. A little disclaimer though about the cosmetic database. I have personally found discrepencies in the ingredients they have listed in their database than what is actually listed on the bottle. This is because formulas change frequently and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with each and every product. So definitely still consult the databse as a guide, but as always read the labels before you buy!!

EWG’s recommended Top 10 sunscreens (and their hazard rating. Rating is based on level of hazard, 0 being safest, 10 being highest hazard)
1. Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30   0
2. Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+  0
3. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+   0
4. Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30       0
5. Marie Veronique Skin Therapy Sun Serum    1
6. Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40     1
7. Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 35      1
8. UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+      1
(there is also a Baby version)
9. Sun Science Sport Formula, SPF 30     1
10. Soleo Organics Sunscreen all natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+  1

From 10 Common Brands (and their hazard rating. Rating is based on level of hazard, 0 being safest, 10 being highest hazard). If more than 1 product is listed for that entire brand’s line, I put the range, so be sure to get the ones specified below)
** Please note, these are safer common brands, does not mean they are free of harmful ingredients. Other than California Baby, I would personally not recommend any of the below or use these for myself or my family.
1. Blue Lizard anything without oxybenzone    (1-7)
2. California Baby anything with SPF 30+     (0-2)
3. CVS with zinc oxide       (2-7) 
4. Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock  (1-7)
5. Kiss My Face “Paraben Free” series     (2-7)
6. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock     (2-7)
7. Olay Defense Daily UV Moisturizer (with zinc)    (2-7)
8. SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense     (2-3)
9. Solar Sense Clear Zinc for Face      (1-2)
10. Walgreens Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears   (1-7)

Personally, I am a HUGE fan of TruKids and California Baby. TruKids is a little less expensive. My husband and I both used it last week at the beach and I use California Baby on my 2 year old. She enjoyed using the TruKids face stick on all 3 of our faces! None of us got burned, and our relatives who used Bull Frog did get burned.

Related Articles

California Baby Sunscreen: Product Review
TruKid Sunny Days Suncreen: Product Review
Add Sun Protection to You Clothes

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6 responses to this post.

  1. [...] sunscreen every single day to help protect against skin cancer, so it??s highly disappointing to fhttp://amomsblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/23/4-out-of-5-sunscreens-do-not-work/CHIC-life: Your guide to stylish shopping and unique gifts : beauty …Trukid skincare encourages [...]

    Reply

  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Alena

    http://www.smallbusinessavenues.com

    Reply

  3. sunscreen *every* day? seriously? oh my goodness. i’m lucky if i put on sunscreen once a year, let alone once a day. i simply don’t trust that the ingredients they put into sunscreen are good for me or for my family.

    to avoid getting sunburned, i simply cover up with clothing, stay in the shade as much as possible, or avoid staying out in the sun that long. if i can’t avoid going out into the sun, then i make sure i’m wearing long sleeves & pants, even if it’s really hot.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Trisha on January 22, 2009 at 9:30 am

    coralie, i agree and honestly, i do not think most people spend enough time outside to warrant applying the stuff everyday, at least not in the winter. most of the time our sunscreen usage is limited to the beach, lake and long hours of yardwork outside. thanks for the comment!

    Reply

  5. Posted by c s on May 11, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Regarding the question of NOT using sunscreen…not using sunscreen for 1 year is equivalent to baking in the sun for 2 weeks, and that’s for the average person who simply walks to the train (or car) to drive to work or school, and remain indoors most of the time. In essence, if there’s sunlight and you are not covered, you will get sun exposure. It may not be burning, but there’s exposure. Think about it: 15 minutes per day X 365 = 92 hours per year; most of us spend more that 15 minutes outdoors per day. There’s a reason people’s faces and hands are the first to wrinkle–they aren’t covered much during the year; similarly, one’s backside gets very little sun exposure and probably doesn’t need much sun protection at all unless sunbathing.

    I’ve been using sunscreen on my face (and recently hands and neck) for nearly 24 years; only over the past 2 years have I been using more chemical-free versions, as that was when I became aware of problems related to chemical sunscreens. Most people place me in my early to mid-20s, and I’m 36 (and just one shade above ivory). Purely from a vanity perspective, it is worth it (for those concerned about lack of natural Vitamin D from the sun–wear skirts and expose your legs as much as possible).

    On another note–people who are convinced that they are allergic to sunscreen but wear foundation or powder of ANY sort should also check their cosmetic ingredients–99% have titanium dioxide, even if they don’t list SPF ratings.

    Reply

  6. Hello everyone… great article! You might be interested in a complimentary story we ran a few months ago about nano-free sunscreens for babies (and parents) in partnership with Friends of the Earth: http://www.bonjourbaby.com.au/blog/?p=24

    Reply

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