New study warns 80 percent of sunscreen products underperform


This story is courtesy of our sister station WISH in Indianapolis, IN.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Pools are open and many schools are out for summer, meaning kids will be enjoying a lot of time in the sun. But a new report by the Environmental Working Group says 80 percent of sunscreen products don’t work to the level they claim.

EWG reviewed more than 17,000 SPF products and found four out of five weren’t doing their job properly.

A big concern is high SPF claims of 70 or even 100-plus. The Food and Drug Administration says there’s only notable protection up to SPF 50.

Another issue is the chemicals used. Experts say just like we do with food products these days, we need to read the fine print. One ingredient we don’t want to see is oxybenzone.

“If you look at a sunscreen, flip over the back and if is says zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as one of the first ingredients, that’s one that we would recommend,” IU Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics Dr. Anita Haggstom said.

Those ingredients indicate a protective sunscreen, rather than a chemical sunscreen which can be absorbed into the skin. Dr. Haggstrom said that absorption can be dangerous, so try using other ways of protecting your skin.

“If you combine sun protective clothing and sunscreen, you’re really only putting sunscreen on a more-limited area of the body. Even for swimming purposes, there are lots of great swim shirts now that have SPF in them that are short sleeve or long sleeve and then you actually reduce the amount of body surface area you’re using sunscreen on,” Dr. Haggstrom said.

Doctors prefer lotions, not sprays, because these can be inhaled.

Remember babies under six months old should avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. Dr. Haggstrom suggests taking advantage of time outdoors before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m., when the sun is much less harsh.

As for the worst sun blocks on the market, the Environmental Working Group also released it’s Sunscreen Hall of Shame this month.

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