Screening Sunscreens

A man lies in a tanning bed. Image from ABC News.

If you haven't noticed, the sun is out and here to stay. And if you live out west, well, you knew that all year round. We all know to practice "safe sun" with all the Dont's thrown at us everyday - don't go indoor tanning, don't spend hours in the sun at its peak hours, don't sit in the sun without sunscreen! But what a lot of us don't know is truly how effective the sunscreens we choose are at screening UVA and UVB, and, in turn, preventing melanoma, and that some sunscreens may have more harmful chemicals than are good at their jobs.

Two EWG-recommended products. Images taken from EWG.

Making it easier for us to weed out the bad from the good is the Environmental Working Group's 2010 Sunscreen Guide. They've rounded up 1,400 sunscreens, lip balms, and moisturizers, and rated them according to SPF effectiveness and their ingredients. You can search for the sunscreen you're currently using (chances are they've rated it) or look at their best of lists for their recommendations on beach/sports sunscreens and products with SPF. If yours made this list, it's probably better to throw it out. Isn't it time we informed ourselves about the products we slather onto our skin everyday?

Find out more about EWG here. See EWG's Cosmetic Safety Database here for information on other healthcare items from skin and hair care to oral and baby products.

Have fun practicing informed safe sun!

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