How Does Your Sunscreen Rate?

EWG Sun Product Guide for 2011

“Because the FDA has failed to offer good guidance to consumers on sunscreen safety, EWG has stepped in once again,” said EWG senior scientist Sonya Lunder. “Search our guide of more than 1,700 products and see how your favorite fares. Using safe and effective sunscreen is paramount when heading outdoors, especially during the summer months.”

How does your sunscreen rate? According to the Environmental Working Group, “consumers can trust a slim 20 percent of the beach and sport sunscreens assessed for the 2011 sun season.”  The EWG has put together a survey of over 1,700 sun products and have created a guide for families to make an educated choice about their sunscreens.  Families can use the guide by typing in the name of their sunscreen product and if it is one of the 1,700 products the EWG has reviewed, a rating will be returned on the quality of  their entry.

EWG’s website also offers tips for choosing your sunscreens, including:

  • Look for mineral protection from zinc oxide or titanium dioxide
  • Avoid oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate (sometimes listed as vitamin A)
  • Pick creams and lotions over sprays and powders
  • Try to physically block the sun with protective clothing, sunglasses and hats
  • Minimize sun exposure from 10:00 to 4:00 when rays are strongest
  • Reapply sunscreens at least every two hours, or after getting wet or sweaty

EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

(Photo credit: (ccl) Ruthie Hansen)

Make Your Own Sunblock

"Americans know that when they head to the beach they need to protect their skin, which usually means putting on sunscreen. But consumers need to know more than just the SPF rating on the bottle ..." (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Victoria Worth of Ashfield, MA writes:

There is a good article in the New York Times about sunscreens.  Below is the beginning of the piece and HERE is the link to the whole article.

“Americans dutifully slather on sunscreens every summer, hoping to stave off aging, wrinkles and cancer. But with each passing season, more questions are raised about whether the labeling and safety guidelines for sunscreens, created in 1978, are adequate or misleading. The Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, has been criticized for failing to approve new ingredients that are available in Europe.

“Research is also questioning the safety of certain ingredients that have been widely used for years. Just recently, Senator Charles Schumer of New York called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate reports suggesting a possible link between skin cancer and retinyl palmitate, now found in many sunscreen products.

“What should the F.D.A. do about sunscreens? And what do consumers need to keep in mind even if they cover themselves with a SPF 70 sunblock?”


Want to try making your own sun block? Local herbalist Tony(a) Lemos of Blazing Star Herbal School shares the following recipe.:

Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA

Sun Block Recipe

  • 1/2 c. St Johns Wort Infused oil
  • 1/2 cup unrefined sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Aloe Vera Gel
  • 2 Tbsp Orange  or rose or lavender water
  • 50,0000 IU’s Vitamin E Oil


  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp. borax powder
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined jojoba oil

All ingredients can be ordered from, or you can order the finished product from Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA by emailing

Q&A: Sunblocks that REALLY Work


Consumer Reports recently reported what tests revealed about top performing sunscreens. Click on the photo to read more. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Summer is turning the corner on us and the sun is a blazing. Can anyone recommend a kid-friendly sun-block they like to use on their family, and where you get it? Blocks that are either non-toxic, don’t sting eyes, REALLY waterproof, and/or easy to apply, are all good to know about.

  • Lauren Koblara Kostantin writes: I’m interested in the answer too.
  • Alisa Blanchard writes: California Babies … one of the best rated on and it is easy to apply, all natural, mostly organic, unscented … I also like the Badger Unscented sun screen but it isn’t as easy to get on, but it stays on longer.
  • Melinda Freund Schneider writes: I’ll be watching for suggestions that don’t sting eyes. When running dog agility, my eyes are always stinging … not good!
  • Sara Cahillane writes: A friend swears by one called Baby Blanket. Much less expensive than CA baby. Available online.
  • Susan Rees writes: The sunscreen I swear by (and I burn more easily than anyone I know) is the Target brand SPF 45 for babies. Don’t know how “non-toxic” it is, but sunburn, in my opinion, is more dangerous than whatever is in there.
  • Rachel Cassia Trigere Besserman writes: Zinc 12% and any base oil (shea, olive) depending on wish for consistency. I have bulk zinc 210-0495! and shea/olive/coconut. This is what I use on Emmet (5.5) and me.  It works!
  • Sarah McMullen writes: We like CA Baby too! Pricey, but seems to last a long time, and non-toxic.
  • Lyza May writes: I interested in this too, I have to ask Rachel, you have each of those ingredients and mix them yourself?
  • Lau Mazza writes: I’ve used Audrey Organics 25 for children.  It is the least expensive and most effective. My dermatologist recommends to apply it 30 minutes before being in the sun. We usually apply it before we leave the house to the park or the beach and by the time we get there is dry. That is what makes it truly effective and water proof, we usually don’t apply for the rest of the outing.
  • Judy Bennett writes: I stick to the mineral based ones, rather than the chemical based ones. I think I got a good one that wasn’t too $$ from Whole Foods. Also check out
  • Myssie Casinghino  writes: We like blue lizard brand.
  • Arianna Alexsandra Grindrod writes: I like Aubrey Natural Sun SPF 25 Green Tea.
  • Share your recommendations with us below.

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