ewg sunscreen guide

EWG Sunscreen Guide: Environmental Working Group Verified Explained

With countless sunscreen products flooding the market, how do you ensure your choice is safe for your family and gentle on the environment? 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Sunscreen Guide offers an answer. 

By focusing on safety and ingredient transparency, EWG helps you choose sunscreens that protect without compromise.

Whether you’re a skincare enthusiast or a health-conscious consumer, understanding EWG’s ratings will empower you to make informed choices.

Article at a Glance:

What is the Environmental Working Group (EWG)?

EWG Sunscreen Guidelines

EWG’s Healthy Living App: Essential Tool for Safe Shopping

What is the Environmental Working Group (EWG)?

Before we discuss sunscreen efficacy and safety, let’s familiarize ourselves with the EWG.

This non-profit organization dedicates itself to protecting the health of your family and the environment by providing comprehensive information on the safety of consumer products.

EWG evaluates thousands of products from cosmetics to cleaning supplies, but today, we focus on one of their most sought-after resources: the EWG Sunscreen Guide.

Reasons You Need to Know the EWG Rating for Sunscreen Products

EWG Verified

The increasing incidence of skin cancer and environmental concerns underline the need for safer, more effective sunscreens. Here’s why EWG’s ratings are pivotal in your sunscreen selection process:

Choosing a sunscreen that meets EWG standards ensures you use a product that benefits your skin and the planet.

EWG Sunscreen Guidelines: Top Ranking Factors

Images from EWG.org

The EWG sunscreen guide is not just about knowing which products to choose; it’s about understanding why they stand out, especially regarding the safety of both active ingredients and inactive ones like preservatives and fragrances. 

Here are the critical factors EWG considers in its evaluations, including the importance of choosing sunscreens with safe active ingredients and the benefits of selecting fragrance-free options to avoid harsh, irritating inactive ingredients, such as the preservative methylisothiazolinone and fragrances, which have been assessed by EWG for their potential negative effects on sensitive skin.

Non-Nano Zinc Oxide is the Hero

Zinc oxide is a physical barrier against the sun’s harmful rays by reflecting them away from the skin. 

It’s a key ingredient in sunscreen formulations, offering broad-spectrum protection. 

Good Zinc oxide sunscreens use non-nano particles to ensure the cream remains on the skin’s surface. This approach reduces the risk of absorption into the body, which can be a concern with smaller particles, and lessens the impact on marine ecosystems. 

By choosing sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide, consumers can protect their skin while making an environmentally responsible choice.

Oxybenzone Free

oxybenzone free

Oxybenzone, a prevalent UV filter in sunscreens, poses significant hormonal disruptions and environmental hazards. Studies highlight its detrimental impact on coral reefs, prompting the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to advocate for its exclusion from sunscreens for safer alternatives.

Octinoxate, or Octyl Methoxycinnamate Free

Octinoxate, like oxybenzone, faces criticism due to its potential for endocrine disruption and involvement in coral bleaching. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) advises against using sunscreens containing this chemical for environmental and health reasons.

Homosalate Free

Homosalate, a common ingredient in sunscreens, is suspected of disrupting estrogen, androgen, and progesterone, potentially impacting hormonal balance. In line with EWG’s guidelines, it is recommended that products without homosalate be used for safer sun care.

Octisalate Free

EWG advises cautious use of octisalate, noting its lesser concern than oxybenzone or octinoxate. This recommendation stems from limited data on systemic absorption and its health impacts. It’s essential to stay informed about the ingredients in sunscreens to make safer choices.

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Octocrylene Free

Octocrylene, a common sunscreen ingredient, has been linked to skin allergies and is considered a threat to coral reefs. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) suggests avoiding octocrylene products to protect skin health and marine ecosystems.

Avobenzone Free

Avobenzone offers substantial UVA protection, but its potential for skin irritation and instability in sunlight raises concerns. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) advises caution due to these issues.

Free from Harsh Irritating Inactive Ingredients

Free from Harsh Irritating Inactive Ingredients

Inactive ingredients such as preservatives, fragrances, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates often lead to allergic reactions and skin problems. 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) advises selecting products without harmful additives to promote healthier skin. 

According to EWG’s extensive research on cosmetic ingredients, choosing skincare products without these substances can significantly reduce the risk of skin irritation and allergies. 

Choosing EWG-verified sunscreen products ensures safer skin care choices, free from recognized harmful compounds.

Free from Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate)

Research highlights that retinyl palmitate , a vitamin A derivative, may worsen skin damage under sunlight exposure. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends avoiding sunscreens with this ingredient to improve skin health and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Enhanced UVA Protection (Broad Spectrum)

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) top rating reflects comprehensive protection against UVA rays, which are responsible for long-term skin damage and skin cancer. Beyond SPF, selecting sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum coverage is crucial to safeguard against these harmful effects.

Don’t Assume High SPF Means Better Protection

Broad Spectrum Protection

EWG advises caution with high SPF sunscreens due to potential false security, which can lead to prolonged sun exposure. High SPF values might not offer the comprehensive protection expected, emphasizing the need for regular application and understanding of UVA/UVB protection.

Choose Lotions and Sticks Over Spray Sunscreen

Spray sunscreens can be easily inhaled, posing health risks, and often lead to uneven application, offering inadequate protection. Lotions and sticks ensure a more controlled, safer application, effectively reducing the risk of sunburn and skin damage. Opt for lotions and sticks for comprehensive and reliable skin protection.

EWG Recommendation: Sunscreen Shouldn’t Be Your Only Method of Sun Protection

slip slop slap

In addition to selecting a high-quality sunscreen, integrate these practices into your sun safety routine:

  • Wear Sun Protective Clothing (UPF Rated)
  • Seek Shade Whenever Possible
  • Plan Activities Outside Peak Sun Hours (10 am to 4 pm)
  • Use Eyewear That Blocks UV Rays

By combining these protective measures with EWG verified sunscreens, you can enjoy the sun safely, knowing you’re taking the best possible care of your skin and the environment.

EWG Verified: List of Top Sunscreen Products

4ocean Reef Safe Sunscreen Tin, SPF 40 

Thinksport Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

Babo Botanicals Super Shield Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50 

ATTITUDE Sunly Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Unscented, SPF 30

EWG-verified sunscreens represent a commitment to health and transparency. This verification signifies that they are free from harmful chemicals, safe for humans, and environmentally friendly. 

The EWG verification process rigorously evaluates products based on their ingredients and available safety data. By choosing EWG-verified sunscreens, you ensure protection against the sun while adhering to high safety and environmental standards.

EWG’s Healthy Living App: Essential Tool for Safe Shopping


Navigating product labels for safe sunscreens, cleaning products, and self-care can be overwhelming. But fear not! The Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living App is here to save the day with its powerful solution at your fingertips. Scan a product’s barcode or search within the app for detailed safety ratings. Each item is rigorously assessed for harmful chemicals, environmental impact, and health considerations.

The EWG App simplifies your shopping experience, helping you make informed choices. Whether you’re at the store choosing sunscreen or browsing online for “green” cleaning products, the app reveals which items meet EWG standards. Opt for EWG-verified products to prioritize health, transparency, and the environment. With the app, you can educate yourself and support brands committed to safer ingredients. Let’s push the market towards responsible formulations together!

“Having three kids, it’s important for me to be conscious of product ingredients.”


Wrapping Up: EWG Sunscreen Guide

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers crucial guidance in selecting sunscreens. Opting for EWG-verified products guarantees superior protection, supports environmental sustainability, and promotes consumer health. This knowledge empowers you to choose sunscreens that meet your ethical standards and skincare needs. Choose EWG-approved options for health—and planet-friendly sun care.

Skorcha Organic suncare is working diligently towards having our natural sunscreen submitted for EWG rating, and we are striving for EWG verification.


What is EWG rating for sunscreen?

The EWG rating for sunscreen is a measure developed by the Environmental Working Group to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of sunscreens. It considers factors like UV protection, ingredient hazards, and stability.

What are the hormone disruptors in sunscreen?

Hormone disruptors in sunscreen often include chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can interfere with the body’s endocrine system.

What do dermatologists think of EWG?

Many dermatologists view the EWG’s recommendations cautiously, believing the methodology might overemphasize potential risks without considering the broader context of sunscreen usage and its benefits in preventing skin cancer.

What is the most harmful chemical in sunscreen?

According to some research, the most harmful chemical in sunscreen could be oxybenzone due to its potential as a hormone disruptor and its effects on coral reefs.

Which is better, EWG or Yucca App?

When comparing EWG to the Yucca App, it’s not about which is better but what suits your needs. EWG focuses on the health and environmental impact of ingredients, while the Yucca App may offer broader product reviews and information.

Mick Wadley

Mick Wadley – Founder of Skorcha

After a decade in the scorching sun as a roofer and going door-to-door in sales – I was forced to take my skin health seriously following a skin cancer scare before the age of 30.

So began my passion for suncare, which is both effective and natural. Crafted for adventure and endurance sports, Skorcha formulas are non-greasy, have no eye sting and absolutely no bullshit (100% Organic).

My goal is to share what I’ve learned about skin health and safe ingredients, inspiring happier, healthier lives through adventure, organic goodness and conservation!

Help us plant a mangrove tree with every Skorcha product sold to protect fragile marine ecosystems and support underprivileged communities around the world.

Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is the responsibility of you and your healthcare providers to make all decisions regarding your health. Skorcha recommends that you consult with your healthcare providers regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition.