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The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently surveyed the safety and efficacy of 785 sunscreen products in a database built to reportedly, "help fill the information gap caused by the [US Food and Drug Administration's] (FDA’s) failure to set meaningful sunscreen standards."
The survey of more than 700 brand-name sunscreens names products that the EWG says offer the best combination of safety and effectiveness, i.e.: they are formulated with the safest chemicals, are most effective at protecting against sunburn, and help to prevent long-term damage caused by the sun’s UVA rays, according to the EWG.
The analysis revealed that 84% of 785 sunscreen products with an SPF rating of 15 or higher offer inadequate protection from the sun’s harmful rays or contain ingredients with reported safety concerns. Some common sunscreen chemicals break down when exposed to sunlight and must be formulated with stabilizing chemicals while others penetrate the skin and present significant health concerns.
This research by EWG is based on nearly 400 peer-reviewed studies of the 17 sunscreen chemicals approved for use in the United States and an analysis of sunscreen ingredient toxicity linked to 60 industry and government databases on chemical hazards, coupled with customized, product-by-product assessments of protection from both UVA and UVB radiation.
“Always use sunscreen”, said Jane Houlihan, vice president for research at the EWG, in a press statement. “[B]ut not all sunscreens are created equal. Our research shows that some products are far more effective than others, while presenting fewer safety concerns."