What’s The Problem With Sunscreens?

sunscreens should be applied before hitting the beachThe sunscreens that we are told to use every day are now the focus of two respected consumer watchdog  organizations.  And they came up with two very different  lists of problems and recommendations.  Now what?

The venerable Consumer Reports reviewed  more than 60 lotions, sprays and sticks , all with an SPF over 30.  After rigorous testing ( more rigorous than required by the FDA) they reported that a startling 43% failed to deliver on their promised SPF.  Even more surprising, only 25% of mineral based sunscreens reached expected levels.  By contrast 58% of chemical sunscreens met promised protection levels. While better than the coverage than mineral sun protection formulations, its still leaves  much doubt about your protection on a sunny day.

Same Sunscreens, Different Conclusions

The newer and highly influential Environmental Working Group ( EWG) also published their review of hundreds of sun products  and came up with very different  conclusions and recommendations. In their  analysis of sunscreens for  children for sports, in moisturizers,  and BB creams, the EWG were far more enthusiastic about  minreral sunscreens.  Their comprehensive report focused important attention on the health hazards of chemical sunscreen ingredients.

Sunscreen Ingredients 101

The FDA has approved 17 sun smart  ingredients– 2 that are mineral that reflect UV light and 15 are chemical  that actually absorb UV rays.These “fabulous fifteen” need to be applied 20-30 minutes before sun exposure.To be effective, they need to be absorbed by the skin where they can block up to 90% of UV rays .  Unfortuneately after two  hours of sun exposure the chemicals  break down and need to be reapplied.  By contrast, mineral sun protection ingredients sit on the surface of the skin and can remain there until washed off by sweating and swimming.

Real Health Concerns about Chemical Sunscreens

The EWG is especially concerned about the health hazards of the chemical sunscreens themselves.  Ingredients  like oxybenzone, avobenzone and homosalate  cause  high rates of allergic reactions.  For  many,  chemcials sunscreens  make provoke   a red itchy rash.  Allergies  are definately an  annoyance but the real problem with these sunscreens favored by Consumer Reports is their ability to be endocrine disruptors.  Large numbers of studies have shown that they can affect estrogen, testerone and thyroid hormones.  These popular ingredients can delay puberty, lower sperm count and decrease female fertility.  Even more troubing chemcial sunscreens may even increase risk of ovarian and breast cancer  in women and prostate cancer in men. Seriously, why are these ingredients actually approved  by the FDA. Seriously!

To  bottom line it, mineral suncreens are both safe and effective. IMHO they are the best option if you have sensitive skin issues including, allergies, rosacea ad eczama. Just remember  it needs to be reapplied  every time you go for a dip in   a pool or ocean. One of my pet peeves is the recommendation of  a hard to find  or expensive product. The  EWG developed a relationship  with Amazon to offer hundreds of approved sunscreens at great prices.  They can be ordered online and delivered straight to  your door.  Now that’s what I call consumer protection.



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