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Is your sunscreen working?

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Sunscreen investigation

If everyone is using sunscreen these days, why haven't we seen a reduction in skin cancer in recent years? According to a report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), your sunscreen may actually be the problem.

Woman in the pool

Is sunscreen to blame?

Thousands upon thousands of Americans are being diagnosed with skin cancer each year. A large percentage of these cancer cases are being attributed directly to exposure to sun's harmful rays. If sunscreen is being used so much, why haven't we seen a drastic reduction in skin cancer? According to a report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), sunscreen may actually be to blame.

The EWG report found that many flaws with sunscreens, including the largest brands sold in the United States. Ineffective protection from the sun's rays and the use of harmful ingredients within sunscreens are the two biggest culprits. In fact, of the 952 sunscreens investigated, less than 150 were deemed both effective and safe.

Part of the problem, according to the EWG report, can be attributed to the United States Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has yet to set strict guidelines for the makers of sunscreen, a problem that has persisted for more than 30 years. Currently, the FDA has made suggestions, but the sunscreen industry remains largely unregulated.

Name brand scams

To illustrate how rampant the problem is, the EWG claims that all of the more than 40 sunscreens produced by Coopertone provide either insufficient or unsafe protection from the sun. Coopertone is the leading seller of sunscreen in the United States. Neutrogena and Banana Boat, which are the second and third leading sellers, didn't grade out much better. Less than 1% of sunscreens created by Coopertone, Neutrogena and Banana Boat drew a recommendation from the EWG report.

Check the back facts

While it may certainly come as a shock that sunscreens may be so inept at doing their purported job, sunscreens remain a vital component to having healthy skin. However, you should realize that claims made on sunscreen bottles may not necessarily be true. Instead of trusting the language on the bottle, check the actual ingredients to verify both the strength and safety of the sunscreen.

Brands to trust

The EWG report also pointed to a number of sunscreens that graded out very well. With sufficient protection from sunlight and no harmful ingredients, sunscreens that were recommended include: Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock (SPF 30), Badger Sunscreen (SPF 30) and Lavera Sunscreen Neutral (SPF 40).

For more information regarding what makes a good sunscreen and for a list of sunscreens to avoid, read more from the EWG Report at cosmeticdatabase.com. You can also find out how to urge the FDA to demand stricter guidelines for the sunscreen industry.


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