ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Crowds of people are expected to hit the water, set up on the beach, and enjoy a sunny three-day weekend here in Tampa Bay.
But before you start slathering yourself with sunscreen, you may want to make sure it’s actually protecting you from the sun’s harmful rays.
“It goes beyond just sunburns, this is concerns about skin aging, and really the long-term skin concerns about skin cancer and melanoma,” said David Andrews, Senior Scientist at Environmental Working Group.
EWG is an advocacy organization that just released a review of more than 1,300 products containing SPF.
"Just 25% of those really made our cut, for providing the best protection using the safest available ingredients,” Andrews explained.
That does not mean you should stop using sunscreen, just that you should be more choosy about what lotion you rub on your skin.
“It does involve flipping over the product, looking at the ingredients in there,” said Andrews. “And those are really important first steps.”
However, do not let that intimidate you. The EWG’s annual list ranks each product and evaluates what is added to every lotion. And you can easily check how your preferred brand stacks up.
Andrews says most of the top-rated beach and sport sunscreens are mineral-based.
“In large part because those do provide incredibly strong UVA protection in relation to the SPF, and are often formulated with less concerning ingredients,” Andrews said.
The group recommends sticking to 50 SPF and lower because the higher the number does not always mean you are getting full sun protection.
The EWG suggests steering clear of products containing oxybenzone, avoiding spray sunscreens, and urges folks to protect their skin using clothing, hats and sunglasses, along with their sunscreen.
“We’re really trying to provide a comprehensive resource to consumers and really direct people towards the best options in the market,” said Andrews.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed new rules for sunscreens that would require more testing on the safety of the ingredients in products, as well as mandating better broad-spectrum protection for products with high SPF’s. However, when the CARES Act was passed back in March, it essentially put that progress on hold.
If you want to know more about your sunscreen, visit https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/