McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Features

June 12, 2013

When did sunscreen get so complicated?

Summer is almost here, which means it's time for picnics, pool parties, and every parent's favorite pastime: chasing after your kid with the sunscreen bottle. But what's arguably more arduous than slathering lotion onto a screaming 3-year-old is choosing the right sunscreen.

Not only are we presented with hundreds of choices — cool mist or lotion, sensitive skin or extra sensitive skin, SPF 30 or 50 or 75 — many are apparently unsafe, too. Some critics warn that sunscreens can cause cancer while others claim that certain ingredients increase the risk of infertility. Dr. Oz says your sunscreen might be poisonous. In its 2013 Guide to Sunscreens, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group says that only 25 percent of sunscreens on the market are "free of ingredients with serious safety concerns." So should we keep our kids indoors for the next three months?

There is some scientific evidence to support the safety risks, but it's hardly conclusive. Many media outlets have overinterpreted research results, making broad statements that don't reflect what scientists actually know. Plus, while there is research to support avoiding controversial ingredients like oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate (the Environmental Working Group's guide is an excellent resource for identifying sunscreens without them), some experts warn that other sunscreen compounds could pose similar risks we don't yet know about because only a few have been extensively studied.

It helps to have a short primer on sunscreen and how it works. By far the most popular sunscreens are the "organic" ones, so-called because they contain carbon, not because they were grown without pesticides or on a free-range farm. These include most Coppertone and Banana Boat products. These sunscreens protect us from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation by absorbing rays before they penetrate deep into our skin. (Not all organic sunscreens absorb both UVA and UVB rays, which have different wavelengths, so it's important to pick "broad spectrum" versions that protect against both types.)

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
NDN Video
Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.