Up until last year, I really didn’t care what kind of sunscreen I bought. And I sure wasn’t buying organic sunscreen, that’s for sure. I didn’t think twice about slathering on Banana Boat, or Aveeno, or Neutragena. Didn’t matter to me!
Well, this is the way things were until I read this report put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This nonprofit group of scientists run the Cosmetic Safety Database, one of my favorite tools ever invented. The Database is a complete listing of practically every body care product out on the market. Because these products aren’t regulated by the FDA, these scientists set about testing these products’ safety themselves.
And you know what they found?
Most of the brand name products we use (like Pantene, Dove, Irish Spring, etc.) contain chemicals that are really, really bad for us. These chemicals are linked with cancer, reproductive toxicity, bioaccumulation (where the chemicals stick around in your body long after you’re finished with the product), and much, much more.
What’s even scarier is that our sunscreen is the same way. And, we’re slathering this stuff on our skin. And our kids’ skin. After extensive testing of almost 1,800 different brands of sunscreen, the EWG discovered that 2 out of every 5 brands either don’t work, or contain hazardous chemicals. Or both.
For instance, take a look at the report on Banana Boat’s Kid’s Sunscreen Spray Lotion. It scored a 6 out of 10, meaning it’s a moderate hazard (10 being the very worst, of course).
Ingredients in the Banana Boat sunscreen have been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity, bioaccumulation, organ system toxicity, biochemical or cellular level changes, and much more.
Yep, this is the stuff we’re putting on our kids every time they go outside.
The cool thing about the Cosmetic Safety Database is that you can look up any personal care product. So if you already have sunscreen, you can easily check it out and see how it scored.
Why We Need To Buy Organic Sunscreen
The good news about organic sunscreen is that it can help you avoid the safety concerns that traditional sunscreens expose us to. And, organic sunscreen also helps protect coral reefs when you go out into the ocean water (when traditional sunscreen washes off, it damages local reefs).
But, a word of warning here: just because a sunscreen is labeled “organic”, doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. Many brands use this label to woo consumers, but it can be misleading.
The best thing to do is read the comprehensive report put out by EWG on sunscreens, which you can find here. This report breaks down the best and worst sunscreens, including all the organic brands.
Who scored the highest in terms of safety and protection?
Loving Naturals Organic Sunscreen, SPF 30+. This brand of sunscreen scored a 0. This means it’s completely natural and safe, with no links to any adverse health affects. Yahoo!
You can see the list of Top 10 safest all-around sunscreens here.
Filed under: Eco Living on May 12th, 2010