The Safest & Most Dangerous Sunscreens for Summer

Spoiler alert: Almost three-fourths of the 750 products failed the EWG's test.

May 24, 2016
child sunscreen sun safety

The return of summer brings with it outdoor cookouts, beach trips, and therefore, sun safety

To mark the start of pool and beach season, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its 10th annual Guide to Sunscreens, highlighting the best and worst sun products on the market. 

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More: 5 Summer Sun Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

And the results are not great. Nearly three-fourths of the 750 sunscreens they tested were found to either offer inferior protection from the sun or contained toxic ingredients that have potential to harm skin. 

"There have been some improvements in sun protection, but there is still a lot to be done to improve the quality of sunscreens," says Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst, in a press release. "Most of the products sold in the U.S. aren't as good as they should be and don't offer enough protection against ultraviolet rays."

More: 8 Foods to Protect Your Skin From the Summer Sun

They evaluated the best beach and sports sunscreens for adults (the EWG did not release a list of the worst sunscreens for adults), and rated on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the worst. Just 60 brands received a 1 or 2 for their "low hazard" ingredient list. Here are some of their highest rated sunscreens. (Full list here.)

This year, for the first time, the group also took a closer look at sunscreens marketed to children. 

"Young children are especially vulnerable to sun damage," says Curt DellaValle, EWG senior scientist and cancer researcher. "Only a few blistering sunburns in childhood can double the chance a person will develop skin cancer over a lifetime."

These are the 22 best sunscreens for kids, according to EWG:

On the other end, 37 products made for children scored a 7 to 10, the worst for this year's guide, the EWG notes. These worst-scoring sunscreens for kids are:

  • Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray, Kids, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Kids, SPF 70+
  • Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70+
  • Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
  • CVS Baby Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
  • CVS Kids Wet & Dry Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
  • Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
  • Hampton Sun Continuous Mist Sunscreen For Kids, SPF 70
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 70+
  • Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

For the full report, click here