A guide from the Environmental Working Group notes “the best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt” – but that’s not very helpful if I’m trying to get a safe tan! Here’s what they recommend for sunscreen:
- Avoid products containing oxybenzone, a chemical used to absorb ultraviolet light. It’s found in 56% of sunscreens! Toxicology experts believe it can cause hormone disruption and cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. Oxybenzone has also been shown to cause viral infections in algae that nourish coral reefs, which is causing reefs to bleach and die.
- Watch out for products containing retinyl palmitate, which is in 25% of sunscreens. This chemical, when tested in mice, has been found to increase the risk of skin cancer when used on sun-exposed skin. (Ironic?) So far, evidence has been inconclusive for humans. Look for it on the label — and pick a different product.
- Stay away from sunscreens below SPF 15 and above SPF 50. Anything below SPF 15 doesn’t give much protection from the sun’s rays, and sunscreens above SPF 50 don’t significantly raise the level of protection to merit the extra cost.
Photo from Flickr, by-nc-sa from Hacklock