80 Percent of Sunscreens Don’t Work or Contain Harmful Ingredients: Report

Just in time for Memorial Day, the traditional kickoff of summer beach season, a new study finds 80 percent of sunscreens on the market don’t work as effectively as makers claim and/or contain potentially harmful ingredients.

The analysis, published this week by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), found four out of five of 1,700 sunscreens, lip balms, and moisturizers tested by the advocacy group don’t live up to their promises.

The EWG’s 2015 Guide to Sunscreens contends the vast majority of available sun-protection products offer “inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone and vitamin A.”

Oxybenzone can penetrate the skin, enter the blood stream, and mimic the action of estrogen, disrupting the hormone system. Some studies suggest adding vitamin A to the skin may heighten sun sensitivity and speed development of skin tumors and lesions.

Several dozen sun-protection products earned a spot on the EWG report’s “Hall of Shame” because they don’t deliver on their promises and/or contain potentially risky chemicals. Another 217 products earned the organization’s highest ratings for safety and effectiveness.