I’ve been thinking a lot about sunscreen lately because I need to upgrade what I’m using — funnily enough, the sun down here is a bit more powerful than I’m used to. In any case, while checking out a brand that came recommended by a friend today, I found the Cosmetic Safety Database, which is maintained by the Environmental Working Group (they do the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which also looks interesting). Anyway, the Cosmetics Safety Database has an in-depth section on sunscreen, rating hundreds of types on the effectiveness of the product at blocking UVA and UVB rays and on the safety of the ingredients.
Even if you’re not particularly concerned about protecting yourself from the sun, it’s worth at least looking at their Sunscreen Summary – What Works and What’s Safe and poking around some of the general info – like reminding yourself of the answer to the eternal question of “What does ‘SPF’ really mean?” This will remind you, as it did me, that despite my attachment to SPF 45, for any product over SPF 30 the gains in protection are minimal.
The site (this portion at least – I assume the rest is the same) is really easy to use. There’s tons of info, I found it to be well-organized, and the design is clean without being spare. I especially like how the numerical graphics they use to display the score each sunscreen receives in two categories (health hazard and sun hazard — number of sketchy chemicals and how well it actually protects you) and the overall score. It’s easy to just scroll down and look at only a certain portion of the results. The search — both the site search in the banner and the sunscreen-specific search at the right — worked well. Check it out and see how your favorite stacks up.
I’ll post with a review of what I’ve been using so far this summer in a couple of weeks – I just ordered some reinforcements today.