Christian Living

healthenews 06/11/08

Sunscreen Guidelines

Selecting the safest and most effective sunscreen can be a challenge. CBN News took guidelines and ratings from the Cosmetics Database run by the Environmental Working Group.

You can learn a lot from browsing and looking up particular sunscreen products on that website. Perhaps you just want a summary found below.

This is not a comprehensive list, but we did select from the top five overall product lines and the top popular brand products. Among the top-selling brands, we were primarily able to evaluate products received; they may well have other products with better ratings.

Remember, we don't live in a risk-free world. There is wisdom in minimizing risks in light of such factors such as one's skin color, time in the sun, family history of skin cancer, how far south or north we live, occupation, age, personal finances, and overall health.

Reducing risks to a bare minimum is absolutely necessary for some people, but does cost more. Others may have a considerably larger margin of error.

Assessing risk is helped by having the UV Index Forecast - from the EPA for today and forecasts for the next several days. The Weather Channel has a simplified one for today. Combine one of those with the Minutes to Skin Damage chart.

 As seen below, EWG's ratings are: 0-2 Low Hazard -- 3-6 Moderate Hazard -- 7-10 High Hazard. These ratings are a good guideline, but they do not tell the whole story as most of the top products do have additional ingredients that are good for the skin. Look for and evaluate those extra components.

Our thanks to these companies for providing products to show on air.

Selected Top-Rated Products


By: Keys Soap

Product: Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30.

Rating: 0 (Low Hazard

Comments: In 2007, Consumer Reports ranked the product at the top of cosmetic sunblocks. Company president Wendy Steele spent a long time on the phone with CBN News explaining the importance of sun protection. She emphasized sun avoidance. That means steering clear of the sun as much as possible by staying indoors and outdoors using protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and sunblock when appropriate. She is very concerned about babies being exposed; their immune systems may not be able to handle UV light at all until about age 2. Even then "many of the natural protection mechanisms of the skin are only developed between the second year of age and puberty". Though the FDA has been talking about comprehensive sunscreen guidelines for thirty years, Solar Rx is already labeling the product with the proposed four-star rating system for UVA blocking.


By: Lavera Cosmetics

Product: Lavera Sun Screen SPF 30 Babies and Children, Lavera Sun Spray SPF 40 Neutral, Sun Spray SPF 30 Neutral.

Ratings: 2. 2.

Comments: Their products are following a new German standard, DIN 60752. This is a high standard. Their literature states, "All Lavera products are made in Germany in accordance with the most stringent European standards for all-natural skin care. The company is committed to using only the purest, organic ingredients and earth friendly manufacturing practices." The company has an extensive line of other personal care products.


By: Pharmaceutical Specialties, Inc.

Products: Vanicream Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin SPF 60, Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 35.

Rating: All have 1.

Comments: As a media outlet, we found working with this company very easy. We figure that translates into their overall customer service -- meaning consumers should have a pleasant experience with them as well. They have a lip protectant as well as other personal care products "free from dyes, fragrance, masking fragrance, parabens, lanolin, formaldehyde.


By: California Baby

Products: California Sunblock Stick No Fragrance SPF 30+, California Baby Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance SPF 30+.

Ratings: 0 , 1.

Comments: As their name indicates, the company provides a wide variety of products oriented toward "babies, kids, and sensitive adults." Their sunscreen products are "non-chemical and tear free." Company founder Jessica Iclisoy was a fashion executive who was frustrated that she couldn't find organic skin care for her sons.


By UV Natural USA

Products: UV Natural Adult SPF 30+, UV Natural Sport 30+, and others.

Ratings: All have 1 , but their one SPF 15 product still has a 2.

Comments: Dr. Tony Kovacs, an Australian physician of Hungarian birth, had been looking for a natural, safe, and effective sunscreen for years when he came across UV Natural in 2003. He eventually moved to the US to distribute the product when he saw the great need and interest here. 

Selected Products Among Top-Selling Brands


By: PhotoMedex

Products: ProCyte Z-Silc Sunblock SPF 30, ProCyte Z-Silc Plus SPF 30, Procyte Ti-Silc GT Sunblock SPF 60, Procyte Ti-Silc Sheer Sunblock, SPF 45.

Ratings: 1 , 1 , 2 , 2.

Comments: Though this company is not as widely known as others, their zinc and titanium-based products are competitive with the safest, broad spectrum products. Their formulations "blend effortlessly without a chalky residue, leaving skin soft and supple while providing superior protection." The "GT Sunblock" refers to green tea extract, an antioxidant. Their sun products are available through health care professionals and online.


By: Johnson & Johnson

Products: Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30; Neutrogena Age Shield Sunblock, Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer Untinted SPF 30.

Ratings: 2; 3; 3

Comments: A family member came across Neutrogena Sensitive Skin a number of years ago. Having allergies, we considered choosing such a product important. Only recently did we learn about the Cosmetics Database and that the product was highly rated.


By: Sun Pharmaceuticals/Playtex Products, Inc.

Products: Banana Boat Kids Sunblock Lotion SPF 50, Banana Boat Sport Performance SPF 50.

Ratings: 3

Comments: Among their new products for 2008, the one for kids is the most highly rated. The Sport Performance product has a similar rating. For cost and availability, these are reasonable selections. A number of their products are not yet rated by EWG and unfortunately we didn't have the time to calculate them ourselves. For other products in their line that do have ratings, you'll want to go online to the Cosmetics Database.


By: Schering-Plough HealthCare Products

Products: Coppertone KIDS Quickcover Lotion Spray Sunscreen SPF 50, Coppertone Oil Free Lotion Sunscreen SPF 45.

Ratings: 3 , 3.

Comments: The company became a household name in 1959 when they advertised their product with a little girl whose swimsuit is pulled down by a puppy, exposing her pale backside and otherwise tanned skin. That's when sunscreen was called tanning lotion -- in the era when tanning was thought to be universally healthy short of major sunburn. See the previous entry on cost and availability advantages. Plus, as each summer season rolls around, you can check what's newly available and their ratings.


By: Peter Thomas Roth

Products: Instant Mineral SPF 30, Uber-dry Sunscreen SPF 30.

Ratings: New products not rated by EWG, but ingredients indicate for 1 , for 3-5.

Comments: The "Instant Mineral" would be the best bet having both zinc and titanium as blockers. Nevertheless "Uber-dry" has the cosmetic advantages of being "weightless and undetectable to the touch" and the possible health advantages of added antioxidant vitamins. By the way, PTR is one of the sponsors of the forthcoming "Get Smart" movie opening on July 20.

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