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Health note: Searching for the safest sunscreen

Searching for the
safest sunscreen

This year, sunscreen manufacturers are required to make a few important, and helpful, changes to their labels. But there’s still plenty of homework for you.

New Federal Drug Administration guidelines force manufacturers to stop claiming that their sunscreen is sweatproof or waterproof. That’s because those claims influenced people’s decisions to not reapply sunscreen after getting in the water. Also, products labeled “Broad Spectrum” must meet the FDA’s standards for protecting against both types of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB. Anti-aging products will also have to be “Broad Spectrum” with a Sun Protection Factor, or SPF of at least 15.

However, the FDA is not requiring changes to deal with the potentially dangerous ingredients found inside the bottle. If you look at the label of most sunscreens, you’ll see oxybenzone listed as an active ingredient. Here’s the problem: Once absorbed into the skin, oxybenzone can be easily converted to free radicals when exposed to sunlight. Those free radicals in our skin can lead to everything from wrinkles to cancer.

Mineral-based sunscreen containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide powerful protection without the health concerns.

Finding these safer sunscreens takes a little work. But the Environmental Working Group makes it easy at www.ewg.org. Each year they update their database where you can search by specific brand name to see how it rates.


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