Skip to content

Group Calls Some Sunscreens 'Snake Oil'

Environmental Group EWG Says Only 8% of Sunscreens Are Safe and Effective

Mineral Sunscreens Best, Group Says continued...

The group looked at 500 sunscreens and recommended just 39, including three by the small New Hampshire skin care company Badger and three from the company Soleo Organics.

The top-selling sunscreen brands tended to be the poorest rated, with none of the market leaders considered to be both safe and effective by the EWG.

The EWG’s top picks included:

  • Badger Sunscreen for Face and Body, SFP 30
  • California Baby, Sunblock Stick, SPF 30+
  • Loving Naturals Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  • Purple Prairie Botanicals SunStuff, SPF 30
  • Soleo Organics All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  • Jason Natural Sunbrellas, SPF 30+

Houlihan acknowledged that consumers may have to search for many of these products because they don’t tend to be sold by major retailers.

“You won’t find most of them at CVS or Target or Wal-Mart,” she says.

Although not recommended by the group, several best-selling sunscreens did score higher than others and were considered the best choices among the chemical sunscreens evaluated.

They included:

  • Bull Frog Ultimate Sheer Projection, SPF 30
  • Coppertone ultraGUARD, SPF 15
  • La Roche-Posay Water Resistant Sunscreen Cream, SPF 15

 

Sunscreen Industry Responds

Rather than relying on sunscreens alone for protection from the sun, the EWG recommends avoiding sun exposure entirely during peak hours and wearing protective clothing whenever possible.

“The longer we examine sunscreen the more we favor the message that hats, shirts, and shade are the very best sunscreens of all,” Houlihan says.

In an interview with WebMD, Lisa Powers, a spokeswoman for the sunscreen industry group Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), called the EWG report “reckless.”

“I would hate to think of a parent not using sunscreen on their child based on the baseless claims in this report, when the science on the dangers of sun exposure, especially in childhood, is so solid,” Powers says.

PCPC Chief Scientist John Bailey, PhD, called "ridiculous" the EWG claim that sunscreens don’t provide adequate protection against the sun because people rarely use them as recommended.

According to the EWG report, a 100 SPF product typically protects more like an SPF 3 because people tend to use far less sunscreen than they should and reapply it less often than recommended.

Brush up on Beauty

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