May 22, 2020: Chemical sunscreens offer the best protection and outperform those with natural or mineral ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, according to a new review by Consumer Reports.
On this year's annual "Best Sunscreens" list, experts rated 53 products in various categories. In addition to looking at chemical sunscreens against minerals, the report also provided a separate classification for oxybenzone-free chemical sunscreens.
In a 2016 study, scientists concluded that the oxybenzone sunscreen that washes swimmers is threatening the health of coral reefs. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding oxybenzone sunscreen for children due to concerns about mild hormonal properties.
As in previous years, Consumer Reports buys products from the shelf. They test three samples, preferably with different lot numbers, for each of the three. They send the products to a laboratory to analyze the SPF and ultraviolet A (UVA) protection.
SPF, or sun protection factor, measures the ability of a sunscreen to protect itself against sunburn, primarily the result of exposure to UVB rays. Evaluators apply a standard amount of each sunscreen in a 2-inch-by-3-inch rectangle to the back of panelists who test the products. They are immersed in a tub of water, then exposed to UV light from a solar simulator. A day later, the testers check her skin for redness and give a rating.
To assess the presence of UVA, Consumer Reports uses a test similar to that required by the FDA for sunscreen manufacturers who want to label their products "broad spectrum."
Five products received a "Recommended" rating from Consumer Reports.
The 5 recommended products include three lotions and two sprays. As in the past, they are all chemical sunscreens, and all five selections have oxybenzone. "While we acknowledge that there are concerns with oxybenzone, we know that sunscreen is a fundamental part of an overall sunscreen plan," says Don Huber, director of product safety, in the report. "It has been shown to prevent sunburn and can reduce the risk of skin cancer and skin aging, and our tests are based on a product's ability to filter UV rays."
Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70, $ 8
CVS Health Ultra Protection Sun Lotion SPF 70, $ 9
Solimo (Amazon) General Protection Lotion SPF 50, $ 6
Trader Joe & # 39; s Spray SPF 50+, $ 6
Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection Spray SPF 70, $ 13
For people with concerns about oxybenzone, eight chemical sunscreens without it received overall "Very Good" scores. Among them:
Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance Lotion SPF 50, $ 8
Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Ultra Light Spray SPF 30, $ 12
The organization has also provided ratings for products that use only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide mineral blockers, although it cautions that they do not provide as good protection as chemical sunscreens. "Year after year in our tests, sunscreens that contain only one or both of these as active ingredients do not work as well as those that contain active chemical ingredients," the report says. "Some provide adequate SPF protection but not enough UVA protection, or vice versa."
The main mineral products include:
California Kids #supersensitive Tinted Lotion SPF 30+, $ 24
Badger Active Mineral Cream SPF 30 Unscented, $ 14
More about Oxybenzone
The FDA asked sunscreen manufacturers in February 2019 to provide additional safety data on 12 common chemical active ingredients in sunscreens, including avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone, among others.
The agency requested this information because research has shown that the chemicals can absorb the skin and bloodstream. The study showed that it can happen after one application and that the chemicals can remain in the body for an extended period of time. The FDA says the request does not mean the ingredients are unsafe: They are trying to understand the long-term effect of absorption and what levels can be considered safe, Dr. David Strauss, MD, PhD of the FDA told Consumer Reports. .
Michael Dannenberg, MD, president of dermatology at Northwell Health Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York, receives questions from his patients about oxybenzone sunscreens. He tells them that just because the ingredient can be measured in the blood "doesn't mean it's too much, it just means a measurable amount."
"People are concerned that the FDA says they are reviewing (the ingredients), but as I tell my patients, 'That's the job of the FDA, they're supposed to do that.' As for the environmental effects, the evidence says that oxybenzone harms coral reefs "is still scarce." Hawaii and Key West, FL have banned the products with the chemical.
"Chemical sunscreens are probably having a more bad rap than they deserve," he says. "And with mineral sunscreens, there is a limit to how high the SPF can get before it looks like paste."
A new report from the Environmental Task Force recommends that consumers avoid oxybenzone sunscreens due to a lack of safety data.
When it comes to choosing sunscreen, Dannenberg advises selecting a product with at least an SPF of 30 and something that says broad spectrum, which means it also blocks UVA rays.
Most people use very little sunscreen, he says. "You should use 1 ounce of sunscreen all over your body." And it's important to reapply at least every 2-4 hours or after swimming or sweating, according to Dannenberg and Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports: "The Best Sunscreens of 2020".
HealthyChildren.org: "Sun Safety: Information for Parents on Sunburn and Sunscreen".
National Ocean Service: "Chemicals for skin care and coral reefs."
Michael Dannenberg, MD, president of dermatology at Northwell Health Huntington Hospital, Huntington, NY.
Federal Register: "Non-prescription sunscreen drug products for human use."
Smarter Travel: "6 Destinations with Sunscreen Bans and What You Need to Know".
Environmental Working Group: "The problem with ingredients in sunscreens".
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. (tagsToTranslate) Consumer Reports (t) sunsreen (t) report (t) oxybenzone (t) mineral sunscreren (t) FDA (t) zinc oxide (t) titanium oxide (t) coral reef