Sunscreen Smokescreen

Imagine being a suntan oil manufacturer at the time when loads of data was coming out about the hazards of getting too much sun! 

Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic – they all turned tail pretty quickly and got into the sunscreen business.  Everyone from dermatologists to the powerful American and Canadian Cancer Societies started issuing recommendations that we all slap on sunscreen.  So we bought vats of the stuff and started applying it liberally like the directions said. Ka-ching!

Now the US Environmental Working Group has actually analyzed hundreds of sunscreens on the market and finds that most of them are nothing more than “snake oil”.  Part of the problem is the products themselves.  Some claim to protect from UVA and UVB rays but really only guard against one or the other.  Users get some of the blame too for not putting on enough of the stuff.  The Group’s guide warns that if you don’t put on a good amount of the goop,  “a product labeled SPF 100 really performs like SPF 3.2, an SPF 30 rating equates to a 2.3 and an SPF 15 translates to 2.”

Coppertone actually had some products that performed well in testing but I couldn’t find them on my area store shelves.  Many of the 500 sunscreens tested have unfamiliar names so one assumes they’re only available in the US.  The online guide is searchable by product name and type:

Years ago when my dermatologist advised that I stay out of the sun as much as possible and wear a strong sunscreen, she recommended products in the Ombrelle line.  I remember scanning the shelves and thinking, sure, make me buy the most expensive one!  But this past weekend we rode for several hours in the sun and I haven’t got a bit of pink or brown on my face to show for it.  Even though Ombrelle wasn’t tested in the 2010 Sunscreen Report, the results I get speak for themselves.