Up until recently choosing a sunscreen was mostly based on convenience and price. But in recent years more and more information has been released about the potentially harmful chemicals often found in sunscreen. While most dermatologists agree it is more important to use sunscreen than not, it is also becoming increasingly important to choose sunscreen that does not contain certain ingredients. I did some research so I could make a more informed decision about which sunscreens to use on myself and my children.
The following is a list of facts and the decisions they helped me make when it comes to choosing sunscreen.
- According to the Environmental Working Group, it is not necessary to go above SPF 50. Studies have shown when people buy a higher SPF they do not reapply the sunscreen as often. No matter how high the SPF is, you still need to reapply at least every two hours and/or according to the directions. It is easy to forget to do this when you are having fun but I will make a better effort to reapply sunscreen to myself and my children.
- The chemical oxybenzone is found in many popular sunscreens. This chemical is a synthetic hormone and through penetration of the skin (which occurs when applying sunscreen) it has been shown to disrupt the hormone system. Unfortunately some of the sunscreen I have been using does contain this chemical. While I am sure there has been no long term damage from the short term usage of these products, I will be sure to avoid buying any more products that contain oxybenzone in the future.
- Aerosol sprays offer a new convenience for applying sunscreen to children who are struggling against you in their rush to jump in the pool, but unfortunately they may also emit a harmful chemical that is best to avoid. If you do use an aerosol spray it is important to spray the lotion in your hands and apply to the face rather than spray directly in the face. Also spray body twice to assure sufficient coverage. Alas, I will sadly give up this convenience and go back to holding my children down and rubbing in lotion. Or if I am lured back into the convenience of an aerosol I will make sure to spray them twice and rub in the lotion with my hands.
- Sunscreen in the form of powder has not been FDA approved and there is concern that these sunscreens are not offering sufficient protection. I came very close to buying a popular powder sunscreen because it seemed an easy solution to applying sunscreen to the face. Instead I bought a solid sunblock stick which has worked very well when applied to the face. Neutrogena Pure and Free BabySunscreen stick is perfect for both children and adults.
- Do not use a sunscreen that also contains a bug spray. If you must use both at the same time layer them on one at a time.
Remember children under six months should be kept out of the sun as much as possible and protected by clothing, hats, and sun shields if they are in the sun. It is not recommended to use sunscreen on children younger than six months.
The following is a short list of sunscreens* that meet the above criteria. For more options and information visit the Environmental Working Group page on sunscreen.
- BabyGanics Cover-Up Baby Sunscreen
- Carribean Solutions Sol Kid Kare Sunscreen
- Beyond Coastal Naturals Sunscreen
- Goddess Garden Kids Natural Sunscreen
- California Baby Sunscreen
- Kiss My Face Sunscreen Face Factor
- Badger Natural and Organic Sunscreen
- Alba Botanica Natural Sunscreen
- Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Sunscreen
*These products can be bought on line at various vendors and also many of them can be found in grocery stores and drug stores.