Consumer Group Releases 2012 Sunscreen Rankings

Which lotions, lip balms and SPF-laden makeup should you slather on this summer? The Environmental Working Group offers its top picks.

Not all sunscreens are created equal. That’s the lesson to take away from the Environmental Working Group’s latest sunscreen rankings, released this week.

The group analyzed 1,800 products and 257 brands. Of the 800 beach and sport sunscreens, the group recommended 1 in 4, slightly better than last year’s 1 in 5 recommendation rate and lightyears better than 1 in 12 the year before. The key difference, the group says, is that it added more baby and kids’ products to the database; turns out, those products tend to use safer, better ingredients than ones made for the general public. Time to start shopping in the kids’ section.

The Best Beach & Sport Sunscreens list includes 188 picks, including popular labels like Aveeno, Blue Lizard, Burt’s Bees and Coppertone—many of which are kids’ products. EWG also found 21 worthy SPF lip balms, 27 moisturizers, and 43 makeup products (including my foundation, Avene Tinted Compact with SPF 50—woo!). The group’s database allows you to search for your own favorite products, too, so you can keep tally. (There’s also an app if that’s more how you roll.)

The dreaded Hall of Shame includes EWG’s buyer-beware picks, including sunscreens that contain a possible hormone-disruping chemical, ones that contain vitamin A (shown in some cases to speed up the development of tumors), and powder sunscreens that, EWG experts think, pose a danger to your lungs.