Hand me the 45! (Of SPF Numbers and Sunscreen)

It’s time to shop for sunscreen again and it may be time for you to take a look at the Sunscreen Guide for 2012 released by the Environmental Working Group. The group’s aim is to inform consumers on which products to choose and the products on their list usually include brands with healthier ingredients rather than popular yet potentially hazardous ones.

According to a report, the guide released by EWG rates almost 2000 sunscreens and anything with SPF. With sun exposure being the leading cause of skin cancers, people are now more conscious when going to the beach, not because they aren’t wearing the right kind of bathing suit for their body shape but because they might not have enough SPF in their sunscreen. Before we start running down the list of the best sunscreens in the market as well as the most dangerous ingredients sunscreen and lotions with SPF have, let us understand first what SPF is.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This is a laboratory measure on how effective your sunscreen is. Whenever you are looking at SPF on lotions or moisturizers, the number after it just means that is the amount of ultraviolet rays radiation one would have to be exposed to to get a sunburn. For example, if I buy a lotion with SPF 15, it means I can stay out in the sun for 15 hours without my skin getting burned.

Now that we’re done with technicalities let us take a look at potential health hazards in the sunscreen or lotion you usually buy. If your sunscreen has Retinyl palmitate or vitamin A, it is best to stop buying it because it increases your risk of getting skin cancer. The US FDA has confirmed this and even National Toxicology says it is much better to stay away from products that have this ingredient.

Read more about SPF and choosing your sunscreen.