Environmental Working Group, a watchdog group for skincare products, recently dropped the bomb that four out of five sunscreens they tested failed to meet their standards of safety and effectiveness. Some have protested that the standards were arbitrary and unfair, but EWG insists that the sunscreen ingredients were tested and analyzed by scientists using peer-reviewed literature. One can be fairly certain that at least some of the standards were based on junk science, but as I’ve repeatedly stated here, informed science-based speculation deserves consideration from parent skeptics who would ordinarily require more evidence before deciding. Why not choose a sunscreen that is known to be safer?
My last post about sunscreen dangers addressed some of the details of EWG’s sunscreen press release, so I won’t be going into particulars about it. This is dedicated to a review of Keys Solar RX Sunscreen, the favored sunscreen product in all three EWG categories: safety, effectiveness, and customer ratings. I felt it was hypocritical of me to recommend a product without trying it, so I wrote to the company and asked for a sample. Unfortunately, they sent me the smallest sample they could provide, a small tube barely good enough for one serving. I guess this did the trick of providing a sample and making me want to buy more, but it also made me want to discover what they had to hide.
Obviously a small sample wouldn’t work, so I forked over $33 dollars to buy the holy grail of sunscreens. The price is uncomfortably high for a primary caregiver in a lower middle class household. You can see why I was searching for an actual free can of the product (given my unsolicited advertisement of it) and not the one-serving tube they sent me. So, when the actual can came in the mail I felt… duped. Keys had roped me in with their high scores at EWG, but the actual product is smaller than a toilet paper tube.
They were off to a bad start, but things got worse. I thought the product was a spray because of the nano-particles, but it is not a spray. The can itself gives the illusion that it’s a spray. When I opened the cap, the top of the product also came off. When I tried to fix the top, I wasted about $5 worth of precious sunscreen in a messy display of anger (hint: take out the insert first and then connect the top). Eventually, I figured it out, but I was pretty annoyed.
The actual product smells quite nice, a happy beach-like smell that one would typically associate with sunscreen. Very comforting. The lotion went on thicker than I expected, since I was expecting a nano-spray, but it wasn’t too bad.
Keys sunscreen is not waterproof. The first time I tried it on, I swam in the pool and earned the first sunburn of the summer. I knew very well that it wasn’t waterproof, but I wanted to go swimming. That’s one of the pitfalls of a non-waterproof sunscreen. Totally my fault, so I won’t hold that against the manufacturer of my tiny product. One other disadvantage to a non-waterproof sunscreen is that sweat will wash it off. I was at the zoo with the kids today and the sweat at my hairline made the sunscreen seem to melt. Clearly, a sunscreen stick would be better for the face area.
I want to recommend Keys Solar RX to my millionaire friends, who can afford such extravagances. Although I can’t personally afford it, I do want to find something equally safe and effective. So, I may go back to EWG for other products that might be cheaper and…ahem…bigger.
Read here to see what Scientific American has to say about sunscreens.
Read here to see what LiveScience has to say about sunscreens.
Read here to see a Q & A about sunscreens on WebMD.