As we move into the hottest months of the summer and spend more days at the pool, sun protection makes it on every parent’s grocery list. Shockingly however, the most common brands found on the market are actually the most dangerous – especially the ones targeted at babies.
In a day and age where sunscreen is used more and more often to prevent skin cancer and protect against sun exposure, it is surprising that sunscreens can actually create more health risks than they prevent. For instance, did you know that most sunscreen ingredients actually begin to break down and are absorbed into your bloodstream only minutes after sun exposure? Or, did you know that only a tiny fraction of sunscreens protect from UVA radiation increasing the risk of skin cancer and other skin related issues?
Much like the “greenwashing” that occurs in the industry, the FDA does not regulate terms associated with sunscreen. Some phrases to be wary of are: “All day protection”, “Mild as water”, and “Blocks all harmful rays.” These trumped up claims are not true, but it is still legal for these companies to use them in their marketing.
Liz Johnston, green living expert and owner of the eco-conscious boutique called The Greener Good (www.thegreenergood.com) who has been featured in Redbook, The New York Times, AOL and more, explains in further detail the unsuspecting health hazards of these well-marketed sunscreens as well as safe, eco-friendly alternatives to use.
THE SHOCKING STATISTICS:
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases an in-depth sunscreen analysis every year. The 2010 report included 1,496 name-brands. The findings will shock you! Of the top three commercially available brands – Coppertone, Banana Boat and Neutrogena – only 2 out of 224 products met the EWG criteria for protection and safety. The EWG criteria includes the following:
* Must be formulated to block both UVA and UVB rays
* Must remain stable in sunlight
* Must contain few, if any, ingredients with known health risks
WHAT TO STAY AWAY FROM:
Avoid Parabens and Oxybenzone. These are two of the most common and harmful ingredients found in over 41% of sunscreens. Parabens are preservatives used to increase shelf life. Often they are listed in the ingredients as Bronopol, 2-Brono, 2-nitropropane-1, Diazolidynil urea, DMDM hydantion, Imidazo lidynil urea, and Quaternium 15. Oxybenzone is a hormone-disrupting compound found in 60% of the 500 beach and sport sunscreens. It penetrates the skin and is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Stay away from Retinol or Retinyl Palmitate, which is a form of Vitamin A. Found in 30% of all sunscreens, this ingredient is often promoted to slow skin’s aging – however recent studies have shown that this may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.
High SPF numbers are NOT safer. Most high SPF sunscreens don’t adequately protect from UVA rays, which is the primary cause of sunburn and bind directly to DNA causing cancerous mutations. High SPF sunscreens also contain higher amounts of sun-blocking chemicals than low SPF sunscreens which may pose health risks as they break down and get absorbed into the skin.
Some of the worst culprits in the mis-marketing of sunscreen safety are targeted at babies:
* Banana Boat Baby Max SPF 100 boasts high SPF, but has ZERO UVA protection. UVA radiation penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB causing accelerated skin damage.
* Hawaiian Tropic Baby Creme Lotion SPF 50 with Advanced UVA Protection meets only 1 of 4 criteria for UVA protection. Regulations in other countries wouldn’t allow this product to market such claims.
* Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 55 claims to be “Mild as Water” but warns to seek medical help immediately if ingested. How mild can that really be?
* Panama Jack Naturals Baby Sunblock SPF 50 advises parents to apply liberally to baby’s skin, but fails to provide warning that Oxybenzone is a potential hormone disruptor.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
When shopping for your family’s sun protection, it may seem intimidating to read the ingredients list, but with a little help and investigation, there are products out there that are worth your time and money. You want to avoid Parabens and Oxybenzone and look for Zinc and Titanium Dioxide. Zinc and Titanium Dioxide are naturally occurring ingredients that are not absorbed into the skin and bloodstream. They provide a boundary against UVA and UVB rays and are stable in sunlight.
Green living expert Liz recommends trying Supergoop or Thinkbaby/ThinkSport, as both sunscreens meet or exceeds 22 of the 28 criteria set by EWG. Both are mineral based and chemical free; they have excellent UVA/UVB balance along with the highest ranking in water resistance maintaining its SPF after 80 minutes of water immersion.
Supergoop offers some really innovative application options including swipes and sprays. The swipes are a huge hit for moms, as you don’t have to worry about squirmy kids and rubbing in cream. Liz has two young girls and she says one swipe covers her along with both of her girls.
Both sunscreens can be found at The Greener Good, which also offers nationwide shipping.
There will also be a downloadable coupon on The Greener Good’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thegreenergoodpage for a buy one full size, get one travel size for free on the sunscreen.
More About The Greener Good:
The Greener Good is the ultimate resource for going green. They provide products, services, and educational opportunities for those interested in greening their homes, lives, and families. The Greener Good product offering includes home, lawn & garden, home improvement, cleaning, apparel, body, baby and pet products.
Dedication to quality is at the forefront of The Greener Good’s mission. They provide only the best and greenest products available. The product offering is diverse, easily accessible and of the highest quality.
Offering nationwide shipping, The Greener Good team brings passion for the environment and excitement for fueling change and bringing global awareness to our local communities and to communities at large.