[Cross-Post] Follow The Money: Why You Can’t Trust the EWG’s Ethically-Challenged Sunscreen Guide

Ed’s Note: Today’s cross-post was written by Jenny Splitter at Grounded Parents. If you want to leave a comment, click through the link at the bottom to go to the full post. 


It’s hard to find a more successful and widely accepted fear-mongering campaign than the Environmental Working Group’s annual Sunscreen Guide. Every year, the EWG “shames” sunscreens made with scary-sounding ingredients like oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, and the public accepts their word for it.

The EWG’s scare tactics aren’t just erroneous. They’re also unethical. They sell their recommended sunscreens on their website — earning a profit on every sale.

image via flickr user dryhead

image via flickr user dryhead

You might be more familiar with the EWG’s Dirty Dozen, a list of fruits and vegetables the EWG says you should never buy in conventional form lest you drown in insignificant levels of pesticide residue. The EWG isn’t just an organization that promotes organic food. They also helped form pro-organic lobbyist group Organic Voices and the Just Label It campaign with organic companies like Stonyfield and Organic ValleyOrganic Valley’s counsel is also an EWG board member. In other words, conflicts of interest are kind of their sweet spot.

There is no reason you should buy the organic version of the “dirty dozen,” just like there’s no reason you should choose overpriced “natural” sunscreens over less expensive drugstore brands. The EWG’s dire warnings about oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate in sunscreen aren’t supported by scientific evidence. They’re just plain wrong.

Click here to read the rest of this post or to leave a comment at Grounded Parents!



Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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