Slathering on sunscreen before heading outside is one of the most effective ways to prevent skin cancer. But with so many brands and kinds of sunscreen, it's hard to know which one is the best. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has rated thousands of bottles with zero to two being considered great choices and seven to 10 ratings considered poor choices.
A sunscreen gets a negative rating from the EWG for three reasons:
- Sprays: Spray sunscreens are big no-nos since they pose risks if inhaled, plus it's hard to know if you've applied too little or missed a spot.
- High SPFs: SPF of 50+ only refers to how much protection the sunscreen offers against UVB rays (that burn the skin), but doesn't have anything to do with protection against UVA rays, the ones that penetrate deeply and cause skin aging and skin cancer. High SPFs also give consumers a false sense of protection, thinking they don't need to be applied as often.
- Chemicals: Oxybenzone may disrupt hormones, and retinyl palmitate, a vitamin A additive may speed up the development of skin cancer.
We've already shared a list of the safest beach and sport sunscreens, so here's a list of a few of the bottles that are rated seven to 10, with the EWG's warning: "overall this product scores poorly and is a bad choice for sun protection."
- Aveeno Active Naturals Hydrosport Wet Skin Spray, SPF 30: Rated 7
- Aveeno Active Naturals Protect + Hydrate Sunscreen, SPF 70: Rated 7
- Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100: Rated 10
- Banana Boat Sport Performance Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100: Rated 10
- Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100: Rated 10
- Banana Boat Ultra Defense Sheer Protect Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50: Rated 7
- Bull Frog Marathon Mist Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 36: Rated 7
- CeraVe Sunscreen Body Lotion, SPF 50: Rated 7
- Coppertone Wet 'n Clear Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 45+: Rated 7
- Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Ultra Guard, SPF 70: Rated 7
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+: Rated 7
- CVS Sensitive Skin Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 60: Rated 10
- CVS Beach Guard Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70: Rated 7
- Equate Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30: Rated 7
- L'Oreal Advanced Suncare Silky Sheer Lotion, SPF 100: Rated 7
- Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen, SPF 60+: Rated 10
- Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 60+: Rated 10
- Neutrogena Age Shield Face Oil-Free Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 110: Rated 10
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 55: Rated 7
- Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Spray, SPF 50: Rated 7
- NO-AD Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 30: Rated 7
- Panama Jack Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85: Rated 8
- Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70: Rated 10
- Well at Walgreens Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70: Rated 7
These are just a few of the sunscreens that were rated seven to 10. If you want to look up a certain brand to see how it rates, go to the EWG website. Warning: many popular brands found at grocery stores and drugstores are not the safest choices.