Summer is riding in on the heels of spring. With that comes a lot of safety hazards for kids: swimming, bug bites, poison ivy, the sun, deadbolts (wait, that was my childhood)… Today in an entry I affectionately titled “Cover Your Ass” I will “cover” sun safety.
Who remembers being “encouraged” to play outside all day? I mean, if it wasn’t for those pesky door locks, we all probably would’ve spent those oppressively hot summer days lounging on the couch in the air conditioning watching TV. The hazards of the sun were little known to us decades ago.
Until recently, finding stocks of sunblock as opposed to baby oil and other tanning concoctions was a rarity. Nowadays, doctors not only encourage a liberal use of sunscreen, but also want you to keep your kids out of the sun for long periods of time, especially between the hours of 10 and 2. In addition, most doctors also agree that the best protection is clothing – no itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini for generation AO.
I’m sure all of you mommas slather on the sunscreen anytime your child will be having some fun in the sun. But from the wide array of lotions, which do you choose? Think they’re all created equal? The Environment Working Group or EWG (a non-profit organation dedicated to changing national policies to protect public health and the environment) says “no.”
The EWG studied more than 1,700 sunblocks. Their analysis of safety and effectiveness is based on several factors including UVA and UVB protection, stability of the active ingredients, potential skin absorption and health hazards of all active and inactive ingredients. According to recent data, sunscreens should not contain oxybenzone or vitamin A and should not have an SPF of 50+. Then each product was given a health hazard rating from 1-10 (with one being the best), based on an specific algorithm, you know, science.
So which sunblocks landed on the “best of” list and which are included in the Hall of Shame? I’ll list a small sampling here in no particular order, but you can visit the EWG’s website for the ratings of all sunscreens. Not entirely surprising, most of the best sunblocks are labeled for babies and children. Don’t let that stop you from using them yourself. Keep in mind, not all brands are created equal, not all sunblocks within a brand are considered safe and more expensive does not always mean safer. By the way, I’m not affiliated with these brands in any way. Just reporting back what the EWG recommends.
Where does your favorite land?
Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick, SPF 50
California Baby has several Everyday/Year-Round Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Earth’s Best: Sunblock Mineral Based, SPF 30+
Walgreens Sunscreen, SPF 45
Johnson & Johnson Johnson’s Baby Daily Face & Body Lotion, SPF 40
Hawaiian Tropic Baby Stick Sunscreen SPF 50
Baby Blanket SunBlankie Towelette SPF 45+
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 55
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70+
Banana Boat Sport Performance Active Max Protect, SPF 110
Elizabeth Arden – Eight Hour Cream Sun Defense for Face, SPF 50
Rite Aid Kids Sunscreen Spray Lotion SPF 45
Apply sunscreen a half hour before heading outside
Reapply liberally, especially after sweating or swimming
Don’t forget the tops of ears, noses and feet
Ensure your sunscreen is broad spectrum – meaning both UVA and UVB protection
Use even if you are in the shade and on cloudy days
Avoid oxybenzone and vitamin A which have been linked to skin cancer
Look for active ingredients of Zinc Oxide or Titanium Oxide
Buy new sunscreen every year as they lose their effectiveness in a few months
Protect your eyes with sunglasses
Be sure to test sunscreen, especially on babies and children by applying a small amount on the arm a few days before heading into the sun
If a skin irritation develops, consult your doctor
Infants under 6 months do not yet have melanin so keep them out of direct sun as much as possible.
Talk to your doctor before using sunscreen on an infant. Most advise against it, but The American Academy of Pediatrics says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants as a backup if shade cannot be found.