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Home | Find the Most Effective Sunscreens with EWG's 2019 Sunscreen Guide

Find the Most Effective Sunscreens with EWG's 2019 Sunscreen Guide

Kids at the beach playing in the sun

Summer is almost here (although you wouldn't know if by this week's weather), and that means you and your family will spend a lot of time outside—at the beach, by the pool, playing sports, or enjoying the outdoors. It goes without saying that your family needs adequate sun protection. While the only sure-fire way for you and your family to avoid all the sun's damaging UV rays is by covering up with shirts and hats and hanging out in the shade, that may not always be an option, so we need to resort to using sunscreen. What would summer be, after all, without the ritual of slathering up the children with gobs of UV-blocking goo?

While many sunscreens promise a lot to the consumer (especially those with sky-high SPF 50+ ratings), do they really deliver the protection the advertise? Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group's 13th annual Sunscreen Guide is available to help sort the good sunscreens from those that won't help much or are actually harmful to our health.

The 264 top-rated beach-and-sport sunscreens are all mineral based, containing either titanium or zinc. Non-mineral based alternatives, while often having a smell or texture preferable to the mineral based sunscreens, didn't fare nearly as well—the EWG only ecommends 33 out of all the many it tested. Fortunately, more manufacturers are switching to mineral-based formulas now, so there are more offerings to choose from. The EWG also takes a look at moisturizers and lip balms with SPF.

Many sunscreens contained harmful chemicals in the forms of oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen and potential hormone disruptor, or vitamin A, which may actually accelerate the development of damage and tumors to sun-exposed skin. Many of them don't even work all that well, having only moderate or poor UVA protection.

None of the EWG's recommended sunscreens are in spray form, all of which are becoming more popular year by year. Many of these products contain carcinogenic chemicals which may be harmful if accidentally inhaled, so they should be avoided, especially when used with children, or don't contain enough sunscreen to be effective. In fact the FDA is even proposing that spray-based sunscreens undergo additional safety testing.

Ultra-high SPF sunscreens (50+ and more) are also something to watch out for, since they can give users a false sense of security that may lead them to stay in the sun longer than they should.

EWG's 2019 Sunscreen Guide contains much more than product ratings. It's also a wealth of information about sun exposure and how it relates to your health, as well as the complex world of sunscreens and how they protect your skin from UV exposure (or don't). The upshot of all this research is: stay out of the sun, if you can. But if you have to find a healthy effective sunscreen, this guide is a good place to start.

2019 Marin Summer Camp Guide