Choosing a sunscreen for your child, like so many other things, used to
be so simple. You bought whatever cute bottle with a bare-bottomed
child was available, bought some SPF 4, 8 or 15 and were done with it.
Getting a sunburn was painful, but not scary, and a summer without a
natural tan was unthinkable.
Now, we are told to be scared of too little sun, too much sun and even the sunscreen!
I have heard a ton of conflicting advice lately on what to look for when choosing a sunscreen. Don't buy anything with lower than an SPF of 30. Anything higher than a 30 SPF is rubbish. Anything with higher than an SPF of 30 contains toxic chemicals. Sunscreens may not actually protect against skin cancer. Vitamin A, a common ingredient in sunscreen, has been linked to accelerated tumor growth. People are becoming deficient in Vitamin D because they are exposed to so little sun. I don't know who to listen to, and how worked up about safety to let myself get. Wouldn't it be nice if the FDA actually published some official guidelines?!
The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to health research, has come out with their own list of what they consider to be safe and unsafe sunscreens. Will I be throwing out all of my other sunscreens? Probably not. I will, however be looking at their list before buying any new sunscreen this summer…and trying not to break the bank.
What to look for according to the EWG? Mineral sunscreens containing Zinc or Titanium with no Vitamin A or Oxybenzone. Which kid-friendly brands do they like best? Badger,California Baby, Caribbean Solutions, ThinkBaby, TruKid, UV Natural and some others. They come down pretty heavily against drugstore staple such as Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, Baby Blanket, Panama Jack and Aveeno Baby.
Great article – love the humor amidst the confusion.
I believe we all need to embrace the sun – it’s so wonderfully good for us! You just have to witness Spring and not just how all the plants transform the whole energy of an environment, but the people too. They all come out of their own kind of hibernation and bloom!
So the idea is just not to get burnt, or actually, not to get skin cancer. So, look for the UVA and UVB protecting sunscreens (any physical sunscreen like EWG recommends do both) and then keep tabs with potentially harmful ingredients by reading labels and knowing what the bad ingredients are!
Natural and organic ingredients in products also help when selecting, but more importantly, look for products that disclose lots of information about their ingredients and why they are in the product in the first place. ie. what purpose do they provide to a sunscreen? Open and transparent.