Sunscreen Guide 2013: Only 25 Percent of Sunscreens Are Any Good

The Environmental Working Group released its latest Sunscreen Guide, which parses 1,400 sunscreens currently on the market.

The Environmental Working Group released its seventh annual Sunscreen Guide this week, looking at the safety and efficacy of on-the-market sunscreens and ranking the best and worst. This year’s survey revealed that only about a quarter of the more than 1,400 tested products “offer strong and broad UV protection and pose few safety concerns,” according to an EWG press release.

Interestingly, the FDA’s sunscreen labeling guidelines finally kicked in this year, barring manufacturers from using misleading words like “sunblock,” “sweat-proof” and “water-proof” and imposing standards on sunscreens that claim to offer broad-spectrum protection. However, EWG found that even with these regulations, the “analysis of 750 beach and sport sunscreens found that the new FDA rules have not led to dramatically better sunscreens than those offered in previous years.” Womp wooooomp.

Still, there are a boatload of EWG-approved sunscreens to choose from. Each comes with a “hazard score,” which is based on the product’s degree of UBV protection and the safety of its listed ingredients. The lower the score, the better: Scores between zero and two indicate low hazard, three and six moderate hazard, and seven to 10 high hazard. Read more about the methodology here.

The guide is broken into categories for best Beach and Sport Sunscreens, with 184 products meeting EWG criteria; Moisturizers with SPF, with 22 products making the cut; Lip Balms with SPF, with 18 products flagged as good; and Makeup with SPF, with 16 approved products.

EWG’s picks include some easy-to-find brands like Aveeno (specially, the Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Face Stick with SPF 50), Burt’s Bees (the SPF 30 stick), and even CVS’s Baby Sun Lotion Broad Spectrum Sunscreen with SPF 50.

Although the group seems to have canned its Hall of Shame—i.e. a listing of products to avoid at all costs—it includes a list of “Sunscreen Don’ts”: no spray sunscreens, no super-high SPFs, no sunscreen/bug spray combo products and more. Get the skinny here.

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