It’s sun time. Which means it’s sunscreen time as well. Different sunscreens vary dramatically in effectiveness, especially in their abilities to block both UVB and UVA. They also vary significantly in the number and type of chemicals they contain, some of which are questionable in terms of environmental and health concerns.
For a quick primer and background on UV radiation sunscreens in general, check out the 2008 AMC Outdoors article, Code Red.
When it comes to evaluating all of the current sunscreens on the market, check out the annual sunscreen guide from the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit dedicated “to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.” Their sunscreen guide reviews nearly 1,800 sunscreens and rates them on both effectiveness and safety of ingredients.
It makes for some eye-opening reading. Several major brand names fail on both counts. Many sunscreens still do not adequately protect against UVA rays—and their aging, cancer-causing effects. What brand are you using? You might want to investigate whether you’ve made a good choice.
As of early May, only the 2009 sunscreen guide was available. Watch for the 2010 guide in the weeks and months ahead.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.