How to Pick a Good Sunscreen

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In partnership with the Environmental Working Group, Sprouts wants to share the importance of sun safety. With the right natural sunscreen, you can soak up the best parts of the sun without harming your skin.

How to Pick a Good Sunscreen

There are so many options when searching for a sunscreen and lots of things to remember. Which chemicals are bad? What offers the most protection? What SPF should I buy? EWG makes it easy with these quick tips.

NO SUPER-HIGH SPFS

SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” and refers only to protection against UVB radiation, which burns the skin. It has little to do with protection from sun’s UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin, suppress the immune system, accelerate skin aging and may cause skin cancer.

Child getting sunscreen applied to face

High-SPF products may give people a false sense of security, tempt them to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburns but upping the risk of other kinds of skin damage. The FDA is considering limiting SPF claims to 50+, as is done in other countries.

EWG recommends that consumers avoid products labeled with anything higher than SPF 50 and reapply sunscreen often, regardless of SPF.

NO OXYBENZONE AND OTHER ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING 

CHEMICALS

Commonly used in sunscreens, the chemical oxybenzone penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can also trigger allergic reactions. Data is preliminary, but studies have found a link between higher concentrations of oxybenzone and health harms.

NO RETINYL PALMITATE

When used in a night cream, this form of vitamin A is supposed to have anti-aging effects. But on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies. Why is this “inactive ingredient” allowed in sunscreens intended for use in the sun? Good question.

The FDA has yet to rule on the safety of retinyl palmitate in skin care products, but EWG recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens containing this chemical.

NO COMBINED SUNSCREENS AND BUG REPELLENTS

Skip products that combine bug repellent with sunscreen. Why? For starters, bugs are typically not a problem during the hours when UV exposure peaks. Also, sunscreen may need to be reapplied more frequently than repellent, or vice versa. We recommend that you avoid using repellents on your face, too. Studies suggest that combining sunscreens and repellents leads to increased skin absorption of the repellent ingredients.

NO SUNSCREEN TOWELETTES OR POWDERS

FDA’s sunscreen rules bar sunscreen wipes and powders. Some small online retailers are still offering towelettes and powders. Don’t buy them. Why? Dubious sun protection. Besides, inhaling loose powders can cause lung irritation or other harm.

NO TANNING OILS

Tanning oils are simply a bad idea.

If they contain sunscreen ingredients, the levels are always very low and offer little, if any, sun protection. Don’t buy products with SPF values lower than 15, nor those without either zinc oxide or avobenzone for UVA protection.

Source: ewg.org/sunsafety/tips-how-to-pick-a-good-sunscreen.php