As we approach beach weather, a major concern for people of all ages is making sure they’re protected from UVA and UVB rays.
While the biggest cosmetic threat is looking like a lobster from harsh sunburn, the most serious threat to our skin is the development of skin cancer.
And finding the perfect sunscreen for you and your kids is never an easy feat. With dozens on the market, how do we know which brands really do what the packaging says they’ll do? According to a new study, more than three-quarters of sunscreen brands on the market don’t live up to their own claims.
In a report released by the Environmental Working Group, nearly 73 percent of the sunscreens they tested did not live up to the standards they advertised.
“Sunscreens are really mismarketed, and as a result, people who depend on them think they are far more powerful than they really are,” said senior analyst Sonya Lunder.
As part of the report, researchers examined the SPF protection, chemical ingredients, and overall effectiveness of nearly 880 sunscreen products.
One issue is that the phrasing on sunscreen bottles can be misleading. When the phrase “broad spectrum” appears on a bottle, it means that the sunscreen offers some protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
That said, SPF is more focused on UVB rays. The number represents the ratio of how long a person without sunscreen can be in the sun over the length of time you can be in sunlight while using the product.
For example, SPF 15 means that with this product, you can withstand 15 times the total amount of sun exposure you could without wearing sunscreen. Still, it’s not more than about an hour of exposure.
However, a higher SPF doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less susceptible to skin damage. Even if you’re wearing SPF 50, it’s still crucial that you reapply every few hours.
Lunder suggests slathering yourself back up every two hours, in fact.
Many of us on the go opt for spray-on sunscreens, but they are proving to be less protective than we once thought. While the SPF is still there, it’s much harder to get a generous, even application of these products even though they’re marketed as doing just that.
Ingredients lists on many bottles are making experts worry. Many companies rely on chemicals to bulk up their formulas, even though those chemicals can damage your skin.
It is suggested that people with skin allergies or sensitivities opt for sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which are both hypoallergenic.
The study also warns that people should steer clear of sunscreen products containing oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.
Oxybenzone is a hormone that can affect reproduction, while retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A that has been linked to the formation of tumors on sun-exposed skin.