It’s that time of year again. Time to dig out the sun hats, beach umbrellas and sunscreen. Most of us are aware of the damaging effects of the sun. It has become well documented that over exposure to sun can have detrimental effects, both in the short and long term. Unfortunately not everyone is as aware of the damaging effects commercial sunscreens, that are marketed to help us, are also having on our health. Now with even more options on the shelf it can become mind boggling, what is good? What works? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been studying sunscreens and their components for years now. Every year they rate the best and the worst on their website, as well as provide up to date scientific studies and explanations. I encourage you to check out how your sunscreen rates on their website at

At The Granary we have done our research to bring you some of the cleanest, safest and most effective sunscreens on the market. All of the sunscreens we carry rate high on the EWG website, with one exception. My personal favorite Green Beaver. The Green Beaver sunscreens came out last year, and since they are Canadian made and not yet available in the USA, they are not ranked on the EWG website. This, in my mind, should not discredit them. Green Beaver not only upholds a strong commitment to the natural environment, they also create safe and effective products. The Green Beaver sunscreen is a zinc based product, but does not use the nano-technology (minuscule particles that may be absorbed into the blood stream). It is non whitening and provides excellent protection on even the most sensitive of skin. It is certified organic, biodegradable and fragrance free.

The following is an exerpt from the EWG 2012 sunscreen report. For more information and a complete list of references, check out the complete report at

*Sunscreen chemicals: exposure and toxicity concerns*

Sunscreens are used frequently over large portions of the body, which heightens the concerns over exposure.

A number of sunscreen chemicals are known to permeate the skin. Laboratory studies, tests on volunteers and human biomonitoring research have detected these chemicals in the general population. In the United States, the widely used chemical oxybenzone (or benzophenone-3) has been detected in 96 percent of the population (Calafat 2008, Wolff 2007). A recent European study detected four common sunscreen chemicals in mothers’ milk, indicating potential for exposure to the developing fetus and newborns (Schlumpf 2008). Indications of human exposure underscore the need for the FDA and other regulatory agencies to carefully review the toxicity of widely used sunscreen ingredients.

With this in mind, EWG evaluated US-approved sunscreen chemicals for both their ability to block UV radiation and for toxicity. The table below summarizes human exposure and toxicity information for 14 US-approved sunscreens and for three ingredients that are pending approval by the FDA. Ingredients are flagged for the following concerns:

Human exposure – resulting from sunscreen chemicals penetrating skin and reaching sensitive organs or hormone receptors
Hormone activity – that can affect the regulation of the reproductive, nervous, thyroid and immune systems, particularly if exposures occur during pregnancy or childhood.
Other toxicity concerns — including sun-related skin allergy, effects on skin and breakdown products

No ingredient is without concerns; EWG’s rating system for sunscreens takes into account the range of concerns and differences in the weight of the evidence for each active ingredient.