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4 Tips for Safer Sunscreen

4 Tips for Safer Sunscreen

By Experience Life

While recent research shows that a little sun exposure each day may benefit your health, most experts suggest that you protect yourself if you plan to spend long stretches in the sun.

The problem is, many sunscreen products contain harmful chemicals, and some are not as effective as they seem, says Sonya Lunder, MPH, a senior analyst at the Washington, D.C.–based Environmental Working Group. To help you find a good sunscreen, Lunder offers this advice:

  • Beware a “50+” SPF. According to the FDA, no reliable research has shown that sun protection factors above 50 offer significantly better protection than those with a 50 SPF value. Such super-high-SPF products can lull you into a false sense of security.
  • Look for UVA protection on the label. Almost all sunscreens are great at blocking sunburn-causing UVB rays. But for protection against the far more damaging UVA rays, which can cause malignant melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer), choose mineral-based sunscreens rather than their chemical counterparts.
  • Avoid spray or powder sunscreens with titanium dioxide. Mineral-based sunscreens often contain titanium dioxide, which is considered potentially carcinogenic if it reaches the bloodstream. Because spray and powder sunscreens are more easily inhaled (and, hence, more directly accessible to the bloodstream), opt for lotions, which are considered safer, when choosing a mineral-based option.
  • Avoid oxybenzone. Stay away from sunscreens that contain this active ingredient, which has been linked to allergic reactions and potential hormone disruption. It is particularly harmful for children and has been linked to low infant birth weight.

If you want to see how the prod­ucts you already have in your cabinet stack up, visit the EWG Sunscreen Guide.


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Molly, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


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8:07AM 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. The list of chemical sunscreen ingredients proven to be carcinogenic will astound you.

6:54PM PDT on Mar 22, 2013


2:43AM PST on Feb 18, 2013

thank you

6:09PM PST on Feb 7, 2013


1:55PM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

I've found that any product with an SPF of 15-30 is sufficient for my needs.

4:23PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

eating raw plants also helps grow a strong body in all tissues of the body.

4:19PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

I never wear sunscreen. not only this, but it is better never to wear glasses so as to let the natural sunlight enter the iris of the eyes without being filtered at all, nor by any glass automotive or indoor. ( of course never look directly into sun because it'll blind you)

4:16PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

There are lectures that show that sunscreen doesn't do what it says it is supposed to do, and that it is ineffective. I think it is that has these lectures, if you look up vitamin D. something like it filters out the uv-b rays which produce vitamin D in the skin, but the harmful uv-a rays it doesn't filter out.

1:13PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Thank you.

1:13PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Thank you.

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