protect yourself from the sun

This past week, the Environmental Working Group released its updated 2014 Guide to Sunscreens. Headquartered in our nation's capital of Washington, D.C, the EWG uses its breakthrough research to protect public health and the environment, focusing on the areas of toxic chemicals, farming, energy, food, water and consumer products. Winning the approval of the EWG is no small feat, so their picks for top sunscreen products are definitely ones to take note of.

For their 8th annual analysis of sunscreen safety and effectiveness, the EWG tested more than 700 sunscreens and SPF-labeled moisturizers. Analysis was based on sunscreen ingredient listings obtained primarily from online retailers. Products were rated on five factors encompassing overall ingredient safety and product efficacy: Health hazards, UVB protection, UVA protection, balance of UVA/UVB protection and sunscreen stability. (Read more about the methodology involved.)

Of all the sun-protection products tested, only 149 beach & sport sunscreens and 62 moisturizers with SPF met the EWG's tough criteria. We were excited to see that four of Truth In Aging's own past "Five Best" winners made the list of EWG's best sunscreens! Here's a bit about each of them, and the EWG score they received. (On its scale of 0-9, a score of 0 is the Environmental Working Group's top safety rating.)

1. MD Solar Sciences Mineral Crème SPF 50 ($30 in the shop) — A lightweight, fast-blending formula that goes on silky smooth and leaves a moisturizing, matte finish. It's specifically formulated for acne and rosacea-prone skin. EWG Score: 1

2. Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($45 in the shop) — A 3-in-1 facial moisturizer, sunscreen and makeup primer formulated with youth-promoting antioxidants, astaxanthin, organic ingredients and non-nano sized zinc-oxide. EWG Score: 1

3. DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ ($25.95) — An all-natural, feather-light sunscreen that uses essential oils, plant and fruit extracts and emollients. It contains micronized zinc oxide 19% and is free of parabens, phthalates, fragrance, or chemicals. EWG Score: 1

4. Juice Beauty SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Moisturizer ($29) — Contains SPF 30 and combines certified organic white grape and pomegranate juices, vitamin antioxidants and essential nutrients for a healthy glowing complexion. EWG Score: 1

See all of Truth In Aging's recommended sunscreens for face and body.

Worth a careful read in the Environmental Working Group's Guide to Sunscreens is their information about sunscreen don'ts and sun safety tips. Here's a selection of some our favorite advice:

  • Don't think that you can stay in the sun for excessive periods just because your sunscreen is higher than 50+. Your skin can still be damaged, even if you don't burn.
  • Do remember to wear your sunglasses — they'll protect your eyes from UV radiation that can cause cataracts.
  • Don't combine insect repellent and sunscreen — use separate products and apply the bug repellent first.
  • Do plan outdoor activities in early morning or late afternoon, when the sun's UV radiation is not at its peak.
  • Don't use spray sunscreens. They not only may pose serious inhalation risks but they are prone to improper/incomplete application.
  • Do keep infants in the shade. Babies lack the necessary melanin to protect their delicate skin.
  • Don't use sunscreen powders — inhaling loose powders can irritate lungs or cause other harm.

At Truth In Aging, we believe that the safest sunscreens are mineral sunscreens because they don't degrade under the sun — they stay on the surface and block the sun's rays. Chemical sunscreens can degrade in the sun and break down in your skin cells, causing free radical damage. When buying sunscreens, we recommend that you choose those that enhance their protection with the power of natural antioxidants such as astaxanthin, raspberry seed oil, galangal and reishi mushrooms. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, antioxidants offer a second, "active" level of protection.

Read more about sunscreen safety from Truth In Aging:

Octinoxate plus other sunscreen ingredients and are they safe

Three areas vulnerable to skin cancer

Smart sunscreen shopping

Retinyl palmitate sunscreen and skin safety