Which Sunscreen Is The Best Sunscreen?

father puts sunscreen on daughter pool
It’s sunscreen shopping season and the just-released 2012 Sunscreen Guide published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) helps steer consumers toward healthy, affordable choices for sunscreen, lip balms and cosmetics.

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The leading cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and, according to the National Cancer Institute, over one million people are diagnosed a year. On top of this, many African Americans assume that, due to their darker skin tones, they can skip sunscreen altogether. The result? Higher death rates from melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer.

Often people grab whatever sunscreen is labeled with the highest SPF and assume it’s the best. The EWG guide warns shoppers that choosing a safe product isn’t just about the numbers. Their research spotlights potential health hazards:

Dangerous ingredients. Retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A) may cause tumors and lesions to develop more quickly when skin is exposed to the sun. Nneka Leiba, Senior Research Analyst and the guide’s lead author, says that “The FDA and National Toxicology both say it may heighten risk of skin damage and cancer.” Oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and can cause allergic reactions. EWG recommends choosing products with one of these ingredients instead: zinc, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, or Mexoryl S.