Sunsceen Performance and Safety Testing Guide

The results were recently published of an independent study done by the EWG. They took over 500 store bought sunscreens and put them to the test. And the results were pretty shocking.

The worst offender being “Banana Boat Beach Baby Max” with an advertised SPF rating of 100, but after performing an industry standard test, it performed as a surprisingly low SPF 9.3 sunscreen. It also failed to block UV light which is sad given the advertised use (your children) for the sunscreen. I used this on my kids last year in San Diego, now I know why they burned.

Overall the EWG only recommends the use of only 40 out of the 500 tested. All were graded on a numerical scale, worst ones failed for one or more of following reasons:

  • SPF rating was not correct
    • 74 sunscreens tested were SPF 50+, but only provided 1-2% more protection.
    • The FDA has released draft regulations to ban the use of SPF ratings above SPF 50.
    • Studies done have shown that most users only use 1/4 – 1/2 the recommended amount.
    • FYI – SPF or “Sun Protection Factor” is a rating of how many time longer you can stay in the sun before getting burned. So if you have an SPF 50 and would normally burn in 30 minutes, you could now theoretically stay in the sun 25 hours. So if you are using a sunscreen that truly is an SPF 35, using the proper amounts, and reapplying often, you should not need an SFP 50+.
  • Sunscreen blocked UVB but not UVA Rays
    • UVB (Ultra-Violet-B rays) is what makes your skin turn red, the warning that you are doing damage to your skin.
    • UVA (Ultra-Violet-A rays) is what does the damage to your skin. So you would be doing severe damage staying in the sun hours on end.
    • 35% did not block UVA
    • These sunscreens end up blocking the UVB rays that warn you that you’ve been in the sun too long, but do not block UVA rays, the ones that are actually doing damage. That is a horribly dangerous combination, with you likely staying in the sun longer than is safe.
  • Contains Oxybenzone – used to block UV light
    • CDC tests have shown that instead of sitting on the surface of the skin, Oxybenzone is absorbed into the blood stream. And is shown to cause cell damage, and hormone disruption.
    • CDC tested 5,000 people and found 96.8% have trace amounts in their blood supply.

Looking through all that nerve-racking information above and coming to the inevitable question of “Jesus, ok which one SHOULD I buy then?” we put together a list of 4 of the top-rated sunscreens from the study to buy. The sunscreens are rated 0 (highest) to 10 (lowest). While no sunscreen scored a 0, there were a handful that scored 1′s and we chose 4 to randomly list below with links to easily buy them for you. You can click here to see the sunscreens sorted alphabetically, highest-score to lowest.

You can of course read much more about each sunscreen by clicking the study links to learn more below.

Best Sunscreens to Buy

A full listing of all the sunscreens tested can be found on their web site:

Best -


Have a safe and fun summer!

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