from Environmental Working Group www.EWG.org
EWG’s Worst Scoring Sunscreens for Kids
There are a lot of sunscreens on the market. Parents have some good choices, but there are other products you should avoid. Thirty-seven products marketed to children earn an EWG sunscreen rating of 7 to 10, the worst scores for products in this year’s Sunscreen Guide.
These 13 kids’ and baby sunscreens have at least three strikes against them: oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and SPFs above 50+. Four have an additional strike: they’re aerosol sprays that can expose sensitive young lungs to potentially hazardous chemicals. Convenient? Yes. Good for kids? Absolutely not.
Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray, Kids, SPF 70
Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Kids, SPF 70+
Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
CVS Baby Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
CVS Kids Wet & Dry Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Hampton Sun Continuous Mist Sunscreen For Kids, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 70+
Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
How we picked the worst scoring products for kids:
We selected products unambiguously marketed for use on babies and children by including those with the terms “baby,” “kids,” “little,” “children” and “pediatric” in the product or brand name. We did not review product images, which are more subjective, and note that other poor scoring sunscreens may include packaging that suggests use on babies and children.
Nearly one in every three sunscreens in this year’s database is a spray. People like sprays because they’re easy to squirt on squirming kids and hard-to-reach areas. But they may pose serious inhalation risks, and they make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot.
The FDA has expressed doubts about their safety and effectiveness but hasn’t banned them. As long as they’re legal and consumers are unaware of the inhalation risks, the apparent convenience of spray sunscreens will keep them on the market.
More than 10 percent of the sunscreens we evaluated this year claim SPFs above 50+. SPF stands for sun protection factor, but that term refers only to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin. It has little to do with a product’s ability to protect skin from UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the body, accelerate skin aging, may suppress the immune system and may cause skin cancer.
The most worrisome thing about high-SPF products is that they give people a false sense of security and beguile them to stay in the sun too long. High-SPF suppress the skin reddening and pain of sunburns, but they raise the risk of other kinds of skin damage. The FDA is considering barring SPF above 50+.
More than 40 percent of the beach and sport sunscreens in this year’s guide contain oxybenzone, an active ingredient in sunscreens. But it penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic skin reactions. Some research studies, while not conclusive, have linked higher concentrations of oxybenzone to health disorders, including endometriosis in older women and lower birth weights in newborn girls.
Sixteen percent of the sunscreens, 14 percent of SPF-rated moisturizers and 10 percent of SPF-rated lip products in this year’s guide contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A. On sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies. Why does the FDA allow this “inactive ingredient” in sunscreens intended for use in the sun? The agency has been studying the chemical for years but hasn’t made a decision. We have. The definitive study may not have been done, but based on available evidence (including the government’s studies) we think you’re better off avoiding sunscreens with retinyl palmitate. There are plenty of better choices.
Parents should know that the FDA does not set any criteria or additional requirements for sunscreen and body care products marketed to children. EWG has not identified any systematic differences between sunscreen products marketed to children compared to the general population.
Very interesting. Thanks Andrea.
Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ