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2011 Sunscreen Guide names most safe and effective sunscreens

May 24, 2011 | 10:09 am

SuntanJust 20% of sunscreens are safe and effective at protecting against sun damage, according to the 2011 Sunscreen Guide, released Monday by the Environmental Working Group, an environmental research group based in Washington.

"To be on our list, you have to avoid vitamin A ingredients and oxybenzone. You can’t have SPF above 50 and you need to be free of ingredients that are hormone disruptors," said EWG senior analyst, Sonya Lunder.

Of the 600 beach and sport sunscreens her organization tested, 128 "ranked well," Lunder said.

The sunscreen report says 50% of beach and sport sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzene, which is linked to hormone disruption. About 33% include retinyl palmitate, a type of vitamin A that the group says may hasten the development of skin cancer.

Lunder said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had allowed the proliferation of misleading SPF values and inaccurate claims about sun protection. She called on the agency to strengthen its standards.

In 2007, the FDA proposed a rule for broad-spectrum sunscreen testing, or testing for effectiveness against both both UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays. The current test is for UVB only.

"We are working diligently to publish final testing requirements for both SPF and broad-spectrum testing," FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said.

RELATED:

'Natural' sunscreens: Better for you?

SPF inflation in the sunscreen aisle

Clothing with built-in UV protection

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Los Angeles Times

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