The Environmental Working Group has released its 2015 Summer Sunscreen Guide -- and with it some pretty shocking results about the the safety and effectiveness of the products we use to protect our kids.
A whopping 80 percent of U.S. sun protection products analyzed by EWG this year contain harmful ingredients or offer inadequate protection against dangerous ultraviolet radiation -- or both.
EWG scrutinized 1,700 products, including sunscreens, SPF-rated moisturizers and lip balms, to compile this year's 2015 Guide to Sunscreens. The easy-to-use interactive tool highlights the best and worst products and offers a host of tips to help shoppers find better options.
"Our research confirms that not all sunscreens are created equal," said Dave Andrews, senior scientist at EWG. "Many products do not provide enough UVA protection. Some contain hazardous chemicals such as the hormone disruptor oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A linked to skin damage. Shoppers who use our guide can find sunscreens that are not only more effective but safer for themselves and their family."
More than 30 products landed in EWG's 2015 Sunscreen Hall of Shame because of potentially toxic ingredients, inhalation risks from sprays and excessive SPF claims.
So which products does the EWG recommend that you avoid this summer? Surprisingly, these products come from some very recognizable brands.
The 11 Kids' Sunscreens that Topped the "Worst" List
- Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Kids Max Protect & Play Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
- Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70+
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Kroger Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Kroger Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunblock Spray, SPF 70+
- Up & Up Kid's Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Neutrogena products raised an unusual number of flags in EWG's review because of the brand's egregious marketing. It markets itself as the "#1 dermatologist recommended suncare brand." Yet EWG has given most of the Neutrogena's products it analyzed a failing grade.
"It is really quite astonishing how Neutrogena attempts to deceive shoppers with ad hype in order to sell potentially harmful products," said Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst. "We've turned a spotlight on bad actors like Neutrogena, but so much more needs to be done to stop companies from getting away with hyping their products at the expense of consumer health."
EWG found that Neutrogena's allegedly hypoallergenic "pure & free baby" sunscreen lotion actually contains a potent skin allergen.
You can find a full breakdown of their research, as well as products to avoid in other sunscreen categories, here.
Luckily, there are some brands that are safe for our little ones and EWG has compiled a very helpful guide to help you find them. The 2015 Sunscreen Guide includes important information on how to read product labels, identify potential hazards and avoid getting burned. Shoppers on the go can download EWG's Skin Deep mobile barcode scanning app to get ratings and safety information on sunscreens and other cosmetics products right at their fingertips.
6 Sunscreens for Kids That Are Safe to Use This Summer
Note: a lower score is better on EWG's site, so look for sunscreens with a 0-2 when possible. Follow the links for the full breakdown of each product.
- Adorable Baby Clear Baby Sunscreen Stick and Lotion, SPF 30+, EWG Score 1
- All Terrain KidSport Face Stick, SPF 28, EWG Score 1
- Seventh Generation Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30, EWG Score 1
- Babyganics Pure Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+, EWG Score 1
- California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion and Year-Round Stick, SPF 30+, EWG Score 1
- Goddess Garden Kids Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30, EWG Score 1
Image: St. Pete/Clearwater