Sunscreen is not sexy stuff, but then neither are raccoon eyes or skin lesions. A good sunblock can save you from ugly tan lines and potentially deadly skin cancer.
But sunscreen is surprisingly complicated. Many brands have carcinogenic or hormone-disrupting chemicals that help the sunscreen glide on and sink into your skin but might make the stuff worse for you than sunburn. Take a look at the label on your sunscreen. If it contains oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate, vitamin A, or SPF of 50 or higher, throw it out.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just revised sunscreen label regulations for the first time since 1978. Those new regulations will bar sunscreen manufacturers from printing misleading claims about water resistance and SPF.
In the meantime, a watchdog site called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is putting the screws to sunscreen brands with its sunscreen guide, rating 1800 different products for chemical safety, and helping consumers learn what they don’t know so that they can make better purchasing decisions.
Finding the best sunscreen for skiing is a challenge. In winter, not only do you need protection from the sun’s harmful rays but some physical protection from chapping cold temps and wind. The safest sunscreens are always those that are mineral based. That means that they're made from titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The downside is that even though mineral sunscreens have improved dramatically in recent years, they tend to be a bit sticky and even though many claim to be clear, they typically leave a white residue on your skin.
If you can't deal with looking like a skiing mime, we recommend you try Beyond Coastal’s Active Face Stick. We think it is a skier's best choice. And EWG agrees. It’s rated in the top three by EWG for sunblocks that are not 100-percent zinc and/or titanium dioxide.
Not only is Beyond Coastal’s Face Stick chemically benign, but it is a thicker sunscreen that provides a physical barrier to wind chap and cold as well as protecting you from the sun. Plus the stick applicator means you don’t have to take your gloves off to rub it on.
New sunscreen regulations take effect in December 2012, just as the ski season kicks off. That means that every sunscreen manufacturer has to change its packaging to remove unsubstantiated claims, and to reflect accurate SPF and waterproof ratings on its packaging. But you won’t see those new labels until your local store runs out of its old stock. Use EWG’s website to learn more in the meantime so that you can truly protect yourself and your family from the sun, and from sunscreen.