The Environmental Working Group (a non-profit environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability) has just released its latest findings about sunscreen and there are four important things you need to know:

1) Steer Clear of Nutrogena

The EWG notes:

Neutrogena’s advertising hype is further from reality than any other major brand we studied. It claims to be the “#1 dermatologist recommended suncare brand.” Yet all four products highlighted on Neutrogena’s suncare web page rate 7, in the red – worst – zone in our database. Neutrogena’s “Pure & Free Baby” sunscreen claims “special protection from the sun and irritating chemicals” and “hypoallergenic,” but it contains a preservative called methylisothiazolinone, or MI, that some researchers call a potent allergen and that is deemed unsafe in Europe.


More than 80 percent of Neutrogena’s products contain oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting sunscreen filter, and one-third contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A linked to skin damage.


2) Anything Over SPF 50 is Marketing Hype

According to the EWG:

The federal Food and Drug Administration says that SPF benefits max out at 50+ and wants to bar higher numbers, as the European Commission, Japan and Australia have done, but its proposed regulation, under fire from sunscreen manufacturers, has been stuck in bureaucratic limbo since 2007.

3) The Common Sunscreen Additive (Vitamin A) May Speed Development of Skin Cancer

This is super-scary:

The sunscreen industry adds a form of vitamin A to 19 percent of beach and sport sunscreens, 17 percent of moisturizers with SPF and 13 percent of lip products in this year’s database.

Retinyl palmitate is an antioxidant that combats skin aging. But studies by federal government scientists indicate that it may trigger development of skin tumors and lesions when used on skin in the presence of sunlight. Other governments warn that cosmetics may expose people to unsafe amounts of vitamin A. They recommend against using vitamin-A-laden cosmetics on the lips and over large portions of the body. EWG recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens, lip products and skin lotions that contain vitamin A, also called retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate and retinol.

4) Make Sure Your Sunscreen is On This List (or Get a New Sunscreen)

Here’s EWG’s list of recommended sunscreens. Do yourself a favor and use one of these recommended brands.

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