Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Toss your Sunscreen, Pronto!!

ABC reported on the Environmental Working Group's study on sunscreen, and it looks like we're going to have to re-evaluate our medicine cabinet. They studied 783 brand name sunscreens and found that not only are the claims on the labels misleading, 84% offer inadequate protection from the sun.

It seems that the lack of government regulations in the industry allow manufacturers to make all sorts of outrageous claims. The following are some serious shortcomings to be concerned about:

--There's no such thing as an all day sunscreen
--Sunscreen is generally not as effective as labels suggest (e.g., mild as water, waterproof)
--SPF ratings refer to UVB ray protection only
--Currently, there are no ratings for the deeper penetrating UVA rays which can cause skin cancer and wrinkling
--Some sunscreens absorb into the blood and raise safety concerns

ABC lists the following suggestions from the American Academy of Dermatology:

--Use a sunscreen with a high SPF rating, the higher the better.
--Apply sunscreen every two hours even on a cloudy day. Also reapply after taking a swim, and use extra caution at the beach or near a pool as water and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun.
--For long-lasting UVA protection look for products tested and endorsed by the American Cancer Society or the Academy of Dermatology.

We currently use a sunscreen for my son that I'm not entirely happy with. I've been looking around for something safe and effective, so this study is just in time. The Cosmetic Safety Database provides a lot more information, as well as a grid to help you find how your sunscreen rates.