Sunscreen. Photo: iStockphoto

As the summer sun starts to heat up in Seattle, I’ve been wondering what sort of environmentally sound sunscreen options are out there to protect my pale, pale flesh from certain scorching.

I considered writing to Umbra under a pseudonym to get an answer, but the Environmental Working Group jumped on the subject before I could with their new guide to both the efficacy and the environmental health cred of more than 780 different sunscreens. Sweet.

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In their database, sunscreens are scored according to their effectiveness at blocking UVA and UVB rays, as well as by the amount of ingredients they include that have been linked to health concerns like cancers, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergens, persistence, and bioaccumulation. They actually break it down by the amount of each potentially hazardous substance, giving them a score between one and 10 (one being the best, 10 being the worst) in each category, as well as an overall score.

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Eighty-four percent of the sunscreens they looked at offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns, meaning only 16 percent of the products on the market are both safe and effective.

You can search the database by your specific sunscreen needs/desires, by the highest or lowest rankings, or by locating the ones you already own and checking out their stats. The EWG database even hooks you up with information about where you can buy these sunscreens.

Topping the list were Badger SPF 30, Peter Thomas Roth SPF 30, Sun Spray Sunscreen SPF 40, UV Natural Baby SPF 30, and Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 35, all achieving a rank of “1.”

Unfortunately, there are a few “organic” or “ethically produced” sunscreens that fall into the lowest ranking, meaning they are both ineffective at blocking the UVA and UVB and they contain nasty hazardous substances. Avalon Organics Active Organics Vitamin C Moisture Plus Lotion SPF 15, Nature’s Gate Moisturizing Cream SPF 15, and Kiss My Face Everyday Moisturizer SPF 15, which I use religiously. That burns.

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