The organization doesn't provide details on how the sunscreens were assessed, but EWG proudly notes that its 2019 guide "contains 30% more products." And, as with all lobbying groups and government agencies, it's looking for a handout. For EWG, the offer is make a donation of $60 or more to EWG and you'll receive 10 "EWG-rated sunscreen samples."
Cosmetics industry experts note that EWG erroneously suggests that the majority of sunscreens on the market wouldn't meet the US Food and Drug Administration's safety standards, an error that could lead consumers to question regular application of sunscreen.
"The FDA has not said that," noted Michael Werner, an attorney with Holland & Knight, a law firm that represents The Public Access to SunScreens (PASS) Coalition. "To suggest that FDA has said that is inaccurate and counter to important public health measures."
PASS, notes that there is value in the EWG report. For example, the Guide includes advice on making regular use of sunscreen a part of sun safety behavior. Furthermore, the Guide points out that a serious sunburn when one is young could have major health implications when one gets older.
"Our concern is that we have a real public health problem (with rising skin cancer rates) and that there is a lot of misinformation about sunscreens," explained Werner. "EWG sends mixed messaging that sunscreens could be dangerous."
Werner admits that there is a whole suite of issues surrounding sunscreens, such as getting new sunscreens approved and FDA's call for more data on existing ingredients.
"There are a lot of things to unpack, but there is no questions that people should be wearing sunscreen. There is a public health risk if they don't," he insisted.