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EWG offers free app to help choose safe sunscreens

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The Environmental Working Group offers an easy-to-use app to make it a lot easier to choose a safe sunscreen for your family.

EWG’s Sunscreen Buyer's Guide ranks hundreds of sunscreens, with color coding to tell users quickly and easily which ones are good, bad and terrible. It also tells buyers which chemicals to avoid and which ones to look for, plus other information to help make wise choices.

The application works on iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. It requires iOS 3.0 or later.

EWG says:

EWG’s 6th annual analysis of sunscreens includes safety and effectiveness ratings for 1,800 SPF products, including sunscreens and SPF-labeled lip balm, makeup, and moisturizer. Our ratings are based on an in-house compilation of standard industry, government and academic data sources and models that we have constructed over the past seven years, and on a thorough review of the technical literature for sunscreen. We have incorporated sunscreen ratings from this investigation into our Skin Deep cosmetic safety database, an online consumer tool available at www.ewg.com/skindeep.

We based our analysis on sunscreen ingredient listings obtained primarily from online retailers. We rated products for overall safety and efficacy in sun protection considering five factors:

Health hazards associated with listed ingredients (based on a review of nearly 60 standard industry, academic, and government regulatory and toxicity databases).

UVB protection (using SPF rating as the indicator of effectiveness).

UVA protection (using a standard industry absorbance model).

The balance of UVA/UVB protection (using the ratio of UVA absorbance to SPF); and
Stability (how quickly a sunscreen ingredient breaks down in the sun, using an in-house stability database compiled from published findings in industry and peer-reviewed stability studies).

Our calculated, overall rating for each product reflects a combination of the product’s health hazard rating and efficacy rating.

EWG adds that hats, clothing and shade are still the most reliable sun protection.

You can sign up for their 2013 summer sunscreen guide and more information here, where you can also search for your sunscreen's info online.

Keep in mind that some sun exposure is healthy. Serious sunburns are both painful and dangerous, though, so be sure to follow safe sun procedures when your children will be exposed to too much sun.

Want to make your own, all natural sunscreen? You can mix and match to make your own easy, personal formula with these basic recipes.

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