Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Watchdog Group Finds Most Sunscreens Lacking; Industry Disagrees

WebMD Health News

Many Sunscreens Not What You Think

June 22, 2007 -- Deciding which sunscreen to buy just got more difficult. A report issued this week by a Washington-based watchdog organization shows most sunscreens on the market offer inadequate protection or have safety issues.

The Environmental Working Group, which focuses on health and environmental advocacy, analyzed 783 sunscreen products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above. It says 84% don't measure up. Industry groups and manufacturers took issue with the report, however.

After the detailed evaluation, the EWG recommends only 128 products, giving 618 products a "caution" rating and another 37 an "avoid" rating.

"We found that about one in every six [sunscreen] products are among the safest, most effective on the market," says Jane Houlihan, vice president for research for the EWG. But five in six are not, she says.

How the Study Was Done

The sunscreens weren't tested in the lab; instead, researchers obtained an ingredient list for all 783 sunscreens. Next, they evaluated the sunscreen chemicals currently approved for use in the U.S., referring to nearly 400 peer-reviewed studies of the chemicals. They also used 60 industry and government databases to analyze sunscreen ingredient toxicity. They evaluated how well the products protect from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are associated with wrinkles and skin sagging but more recently have also been linked to skin cancer. UVB rays can lead to sunburn and skin cancer.

They also analyzed the stability of the products. They gave each product a sun hazard rating for effectiveness, taking into account UVA and UVB protection, as well as the stability of the sunscreen in the sun. They gave each product a health hazard rating, based on the safety of the ingredients.

Among the findings:

Some big-name brands ended up with an "avoid" rating. Among those on the "avoid" list are Coppertone Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 15, Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion SPF 15, and Banana Boat UVA & UVB Sunscreen Lotion.

The "best" list includes:

  • Badger SPF 30
  • Peter Thomas Roth Titanium Dioxide Sunblock SPF 30
  • Lavera Sun Screen Neutral SPF 40
  • UV Natural Baby SPF30+ Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
  • Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 35
  • UV Natural Sport SPF 30 & Very Water Resistant
  • Colorescience Shake It Up Sunforgettable SPF 30
  • Mustela Bebe High Protection Sun Lotion SPF 50
  • Obagi Nu-Derm Physical UV Block Step Six SPF 32

Brush up on Beauty

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices