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EWG Sunscreen Buyer's Guide

  • Category: Reference
  • Released date: 07/06/2010
  • Current Version: 2.011
  • Seller: Environmental Working Group
  • Recommended Age: 4+
  • Download Size: 801090
  • Last Update: 07/22/2011
  • Requirements: All

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EWG’s 5th annual analysis of sunscreens includes safety and effectiveness ratings for 1,700 SPF products, including sunscreens and SPF-labeled lip balm, makeup, and moisturizer. Our ratings are based on an in-house compilation of standard industry, government and academic data sources and models that we have constructed over the past seven years, and on a thorough review of the technical literature for sunscreen. We have incorporated sunscreen ratings from this investigation into our Skin Deep cosmetic safety database, an online consumer tool available at

We based our analysis on sunscreen ingredient listings obtained primarily from online retailers. We rated products for overall safety and efficacy in sun protection considering five factors:

Health hazards associated with listed ingredients (based on a review of nearly 60 standard.

industry, academic, and government regulatory and toxicity databases).

UVB protection (using SPF rating as the indicator of effectiveness).

UVA protection (using a standard industry absorbance model).

The balance of UVA/UVB protection (using the ratio of UVA absorbance to SPF); and
Stability (how quickly a sunscreen ingredient breaks down in the sun, using an in-house stability database compiled from published findings in industry and peer-reviewed stability studies).

Our calculated, overall rating for each product reflects a combination of the product’s health hazard rating and efficacy rating.

The methods and content of our analysis are based on our review of the technical sunscreen literature, including hundreds of industry and peer-reviewed studies. We compiled the results of our analyses in an online, interactive sunscreen guide. The details of our methodology are described below.

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