Choosing a Safe and Effective Sunscreen

Spring break is less than a week away in my neck of the woods and I will be taking a cruise to Mexico with my family. I know I need to buy some new sunscreen and figured I would do a little research before hitting the store. So, I delved into the confusing and large, confusing word filled world of sunscreen labels.

To begin, I turned to google, of course, and did a search for the healthiest/least chemical filled sunscreens. I also read up on what constitutes a “good” sunscreen as defined by the FDA. I learned that when looking for a sunscreen you want to look for one that protects you from both UVA and UVB light because the sun emits both types. You would be surprised how many only protect you from UVB radiation. I also learned that you might want to avoid PABA in your sunscreen because it can cause skin irritation and stain clothing.Other chemicals you will want to avoid are parabens (duh) because they mimic hormones and could cause cancer as well as chemical sunscreens containing chemicals like oxybenzone and octyl methoxycinnamate. You should also avoid titanium dioxide because it has also been identified as a cancer causing agent. I know this next statement may burst your bubble but, you should also avoid the sunscreen sprays because they release nano particles that could damage lungs. If you use it on yourself and hold your breath you might be o.k. but for young kids like my 2 year old, you better go with the old-school lotion or maybe a sunscreen stick. Also in regards to easy you should avoid sunscreen wipes (even though they are sooooo easy) because they have not been researched by the FDA as to their effectiveness. Finally, in regards to things to avoid, you should avoid fragrances. Normally they are made with detrimental chemicals (often parabens) that are known cancer causing agents. Many of the natural sunscreens may have a fragrance anyway due to natural oils like rosemary and lemon grass so they will have a pleasant smell. Just read the ingredient list.

In regards to your SPF rating. I learned that you want a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or so if you are going to be outside for extended periods of time. Everything I read said that just because the SPF is higher it does not make that sunscreen better or more effective than that of one with an SPF of 30 or so and they generally contain more chemicals to create the higher SPF. SPF measures the length of time you are protected from the UVA rays so, if you normally burn within 10 minutes of sun exposure multiply that number by the SPF. For example, if it is an SPF of 30 that means that you multiply it by 10 and you will receive 300 minutes of protection before burning after applying the sunscreen. Because SPF only measures UVA protection you have to look for specific ingredients to protect from the UVB rays because there is no measuring system in use. You should look for sunscreens containing non-nano zinc oxide for that protection.

A site I found very helpful in narrowing down my decision was have reviewed all of the sunscreens available and rated them on a scale to let you know which ones are the least and most harmful. They even have a “Hall of Shame” to make it easy for you to recognize the worst sunscreens for your children. The top most harmful sunscreens listed are as follows:

These were placed on the list for multiple reasons like containing harmful chemicals, lacking UVA ray protection, being a spray targeted for kids andcontaining titanium dioxide in powder form.

So, after all of my research what sunscreens did I decide to put on my list? I chose 3 different brands that I think will meet my needs. I have a smaller selection based on what I can buy in person because of my location so that knocked other good options off of my list. All three of the brands I chose will cost somewhere between $10-15 but, I think it’s worth it.

California Baby Everyday/Year-round Sunscreen Stick SPF 30+

California Baby products are always good and I have bought several different ones in the past. They normally have a pleasant smell and texture and I can find them at Target and Walgreens.

Kiss My Face Kids 100% Natural Sunblock/Sunstick, Pink, SPF 30

It’s a brand I’m familiar with and the fact that it goes on pink and then dries clear will be both fun and helpful when applying.

ThinkBaby Sunscreen Benefitting Livestron SPF 50+

It has a good score and was one of the first sunscreens to pass the “Whole Foods Premium Care” Requirements. Purchasing this product also ensures that 1.5 million dollars goes to support Livestrong in the fight against cancer.

In all honesty I will probably choose the California Baby but if one of the other two are on sale then they might win. I hope this was helpful.



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