As Memorial Day kicks off the unofficial start to summer, we’re here to remind you that there’s more to life than good weather and vacationing. Over the past 10 years, the Environmental Working Group has been busy conducting independent research into the best and worst sunscreens, and their 2016 report is now available for general viewing. You can check out the complete findings here.
What is interesting about this year’s report is the observation of sunscreen trends that are putting men at risk of skin cancer. Rather than the numbers falling it appears we are getting worst at preventing skin cancer, and it may not be our fault. According to the report, many sunscreens fail to provide adequate sun protection, and may be responsible for increasing our exposure to the sun.
Here’s what we discovered:
Sunscreen May Provide Inadequate Protection
This year, the group looked at more than 750 products and concluded that nearly 75 percent of them offered poor protection or had ingredients the group found “worrisome.” For example, oxybenzone is a sunscreen additive that the working group says is a hormone disruptor and allergen. Ingredients in some sunscreen may even cause skin cancer although this is in the minority.
Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst for the Environmental Working Group, says it’s a good thing that the number of mineral-only products has doubled since 2007, rising from 17 percent of products to 34 percent in 2016. These sunscreens, which offer protection against both UVA and UVB, generally don’t contain harmful additives.
SPF 50+ Is Not a Failsafe
Many guys assume that the higher the number, the more sun protection is offered, but this is inaccurate and poses unique problems. The report found that after SPF 50, sunscreen provided no benefits beyond lesser SPF values. While we no longer see claims like “sweatproof” and “waterproof” on sunscreen, the agency’s proposed regulation that would cap SPF numbers at 50+ hasn’t kicked in yet.
In this year’s report, the Environmental Working Group found that 61 sunscreen products had an SPF higher than 50, as opposed to just 10 products in 2007. This suggests that marketing companies are leveraging our new found awareness to profit. We recommend investing only in quality brands who are tested and proven to provide sun protection, and avoid the temptation to buy inferior products.
Spray On Sunscreen Doesn’t Cover It
Spray-on sunscreens burst into the market and made a huge impact thanks to their quick and seamless application, but as many people can testify, spray on sunscreen simply doesn’t cover it. If you use the aerosol, you will not be able to tell where the product has been applied. This is asking for trouble. While seemingly convenient, it also evaporates quickly and needs to be reapplied more often.
The important thing to remember, the group says, is that sunscreen alone won’t do the job and that we tend to give it more importance than we should. Hats, sunglasses, time in the shade and other essentials are also key for protecting against sun damage and should be used as part of a sun protection plan. Plus, the earlier you start, the less your overall risk of developing skin cancer.
The Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens 2016
The organization rated sunscreens from 1 to 10 (products with 1’s were excellent and ones with 10’s were the worst). Just over 60 brands received a score of 1 or 2. These were designated “low hazard” for their ingredient list and because they had a good balance of SPF and UVA protection. Find the full list here.
- All Good Sunscreen and Sunstick, SPF 30 and 50
- All Terrain Aqua and TerraSport Sunscreens, SPF 30
- Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Badger Sunscreen Cream and Lotion, SPF 25, 30, and 35
- Bare Belly Organics, SPF 34
- Beauty Without Cruelty, SPF 30
- Kiss My Face Organics Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Nature’s Gate Face Sunscreen, SPF 25
- Tropical Sands Sunscreen and Facestick, SPF 30
- Releve Organic Skincare, SPF 20
- Star Naturals Sunscreen Stick, SPF 25
What is your favorite sunscreen? Leave a comment and let us know if it made the best sunscreen list for 2016 or if you need to switch!