A few weeks ago, we posted a column all about SPF. We explained why higher SPF is not necessarily a better choice, but that SPF 15 will suffice if you use it properly. We also explained how SPF only blocks UVB rays and we gave you ingredients to look for to help block UVA rays (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide).
SFGate.com this week ran a story that confirms our story and takes it a step further. Apparently efficacy is not the only problem with high SPF sunscreens—safety is an issue, too. According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group based in Seattle, many products with high SPF contain “bad ingredients, and companies use unsubstantiated claims about their effectiveness to market them.”
Among the ingredients they warn consumers to avoid:
1. retinyl palmitate, which the group claims showed higher rates of skin lesions and tumors in various. The ingredient is a form of Vitamin A that is used in 30 percent of the sunscreens that were analyzed.
2. oxybenzone, a sun-blocking agent that is also a hormone disrupter and skin irritant.
The working group also points out that many products containing the egregious ingredients are marketed specifically for babies. To see the full report, including sunscreens that the working group deems safe, go to http://www.ewg.org/news/news-releases/2011/05/23/2011-sunscreen-database-profiles-1700-products.