December 01, 2013 Sally Bjornsen


The hands-down best sunscreen guide is The Environmental Working Group Guide to Sunscreens.  It’s my go-to guide for everything from infant sunscreen to lip balms and sport sunscreens.  Part detailed sunscreen reviews, part sun cancer facts, part dos and don’ts, the ERW’s Sunscreen Guide is bookmarked and visited often in my family.

“EWG’s sunscreen database rates the safety and efficacy of about 1,400 SPF-rated products, including about 750 sunscreens for beach and sports use. We give high ratings to brands that provide broad spectrum, long-lasting protection with ingredients that pose fewer health concerns when absorbed by the body.”  Their sunscreen guide reviews sunscreens in the following categories:

Beach and Sports Sunscreens   

Moisturizers with SPF   

Lip Balm with SPF   

Make Up with SPF   


Each reviewed product gets and overall score of:  “green” 0-2 rating, denoting low hazard,  “yellow” 3-6 rating, denoting moderate hazard or “red” 7-10 rating denoting high hazard.  Further, they rate each product at EXCELLENT, GOOD, or LOW in the following sub-categories:

UVB protection

UVA protection

UVA/UVB balance

Sunscreen stability

Health concern

Other concern

Scores are based on “data availability rating: the scope of ingredient safety data contained in Skin Deep, and the number of studies available in the open scientific literature.”


The site offers more than sunscreen reviews too.  Their What Not to Bring on Vacation section includes “Don’t” such as no spray sunscreens – something I’d been using on my children not knowing the inhalation risk.  It also advises against oxybenzone which absorbs into the bloodstream and acts as estrogen.  Other “Don’ts” include:  No Super-High SPFs, No Loose Powder Sunscreens, No Retinyl Palmitate, No Combined Sunscreen/Bug Repellents, No Sunscreen Towelettes, and No Tanning Oils (I did know that last one).


Also worth a visit is their Sun Safety Tips section.   They highlight sun safety needs for children vs. infants vs. teens (who always seem to want bronzed skin).  EWG’s main advice is this – the ingredients in your sunscreen matter.  Their Sunscreen Guide will give you the knowledge to find the sunscreen that is right for you and your family.  The choices are out there, and this site makes it easy to find them. 




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