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10 Disturbing Sunscreen Secrets

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7. Labels Can Lie
Horrifying but true: The FDA doesn’t regulate sunscreens, meaning manufacturers aren’t legally required to prove the claims on their labels. They can use words like waterproof, all-day protection, and broad spectrum without any evidence to back up their assertions. No wonder sun lovers are lulled into a false sense of protection!

“Overblown claims on the bottle lead you to believe you’re covered,” says Sonya Lunder, M.P.H., a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group. “You may put on a ‘waterproof’ sunscreen promising ‘all-day protection’ and assume, incorrectly, that you don’t need to reapply. In reality, you need to reapply every two hours and each time you get out of the water.”

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8. The SPF Number Doesn’t Mean Much
Conventional wisdom suggests that SPF 30 will give you twice the protection of SPF 15, and SPF 100 will offer twice the coverage of SPF 50. If only.

“The sky-high numbers are a marketing ploy,” says Gilchrest.

Reapply sunscreen every two hours and each time you get out of the water.

“People think they’re doing themselves a favor by using high SPF, but the difference is incremental. SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of UVB rays; SPF 30 protects against 97 percent; SPF 50, 98 percent; and SPF 100, 99 percent–and that’s only if you apply enough of it.”

Don’t fall for the numbers game. When the FDA releases its new guidelines, it’s expected to include a ban on any SPF over 50 because the numbers can be misleading. Until then, use this simple rule from Gilchrest: If you burn easily, go for SPF 50 and apply it generously; otherwise, there’s no need to go above SPF 30.

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Rodale is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice.


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7:58AM PST on Jan 26, 2014

'FDA last reviewed the safety of sunscreen ingredients in 1978. At that time, it announced plans to develop comprehensive standards for sunscreen safety and effectiveness. More than 30 years later, the agency has yet to publish any standards for sunscreen ingredients. As a result, manufacturers in the U.S. are free to market products containing ingredients that have not been proven safe. When many of the chemicals used in popular sunscreens are exposed to sunlight, reactions occur between the sunscreen’s active and inactive ingredients and the epidermis. Toxic reactions include inflammation, dermalogical effects, allergic reactions and photogenotoxic (DNA altering) effects. Chemical sunscreens have ingredients that actually promote cancer.' See more at:

3:43AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Noted and thank you!!

9:40AM PST on Jan 24, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

9:52PM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

I live in Arizona and it's hot. Even in the winter time, the sun in Arizona is dangerous.

I don't use sun screen. I think it harms the skin.

I eat almonds and carry a golf umbrella that is BBBBIIIIIIIGGGGG!!!! I see women walking along with regular umbrellas and they don't know their arms are hanging out in the sun!

I'm almost 70 and I don't have skin cancer. In fact, in the past, I spent a lot of time in the sun.
I don't have cancer. I use almonds and a HHHUUUGGGEEE umbrella. In the day time it protects me from the sun. At night, it protects me body bothers an old lady with a BIG!!! umbrella as long as I stay in safe areas. lol

12:25AM PDT on May 14, 2012


6:22PM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

All this is very true. Go to Deep and u can see their best rated sunscreens. I use Badger.

2:23AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

When I was a child, there was NOT much consciousness of the importance of sun protection, and NOT much available in the way of useful sunscreens. (Yeah, OK, there was the dreaded stark white zinc oxide stuff that lifeguards coated their noses with!) So, in fact, much has actually improved in the last several decades. At least now there is a choice of many suncreens, some (unfortunately not all) of which are reasonably efficacious and safe.

5:59AM PDT on Jun 26, 2011


11:32AM PDT on Jun 21, 2011

I honestly never thought of the possible harm sunscreen could do... thank you for that!

11:25PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

Found article very informative. Thanks!!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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