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EWG Sunscreen Guide 2013, How Best to Use


The EWG annual Sunscreen Guide is out. These guys go out of there way each year to rate sunscreens on all kinds of things, including UV protection, stability, health concerns, even cost. And the list of safe sunscreens, according to EWG, is looooong. 184 products in Beach & Sport alone.

I’ve said it before and will say it again – EWG Skin Deep is a great resource for finding information on cosmetic products and ingredients. BUT. You still need to do your own research.

For instance, not every sunscreen on their list is completely free from harmful ingredients. Be sure to read ingredients listings and compare them to your Cosmetic Ingredient Cheat Sheet if you need help ID’ing harmful ingredients.

Take this sunscreen as an example: Coppertone Faces Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 made EWG’s list of safe sunscreens for Beach & Sport. It contains zinc, the best mineral sunscreen protection, and received a “Good” rating on UVA protection and UVA/UVB Balance. The overall score for this product is a 2, 0 being safest and 10 being most harmful. Here’s my problem with this rating – this product contains chemical sunscreens (one of which scores a 6 at EWG) plus other toxic ingredients, like propylene glycol, dimethicone, parabens and formaldehyde. Throwing in products like this one from Coppertone is getting pretty fast and loose with “safe” sunscreens, if you ask me.

So, while there are lots of truly safe and very effective sunscreens on the list, please don’t forget to read your labels.

My picks from the EWG Sunscreen Guide 2013 in each category are:

Beach & SportTrue Natural Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Caribbean Coconut SPF 30. These guys have put a lot of research and know-how into creating their sunscreens. They are also a completely nontoxic brand, so you can trust that any of their products are safe. The reason it received a 2 rating rather than a 0 from EWG is because of how they rank mineral sunscreens, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Still, mineral sunscreens are totally the way to go, much safer and more effective than chemical sunscreens. I like this one because it doesn’t leave a white or greasy film on skin and smells great.

Moisturizer with SPF — Ava Anderson Non Toxic Daily Moisturizer SPF 15. I wrote about this line last year, and still believe in their products. The very low 1 ranking is due to, again, EWG’s zinc rating and aloe vera received a 1 rank. Go figure.

Lip Balm with SPF – Again, Ava Anderson Non Toxic Lip Balm SPF 15. My whole family loves this stuff.

Makeup with SPF – I don’t know a thing about any of the makeups with sunscreen listed in the guide. I would, however, recommend you try GO!screen Brush-on Powder SPF30 Susncreen. Not a makeup, but give your face a swipe or this cool powder after applying your makeup. Good to go.

Have questions on sunscreens? Ask away…

[Image by Hacklock at, Creative commons]

Written by Liz Thompson

I am an organic beauty expert, writer, and mom of two young environmentalists who can already spot a toxic product when they see one. Read more about me at Organic Beauty, and find me on , Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.


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