Hint – it’s more Casper than Bronzed Goddess.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released their 2011 Sunscreen Results today, confusing consumers with the multi-level rating system and scaring the bejesus out of paraben-fearing Moms.
Here’s my sisterly advice, with a little dose of chemical engineer and environmentalist, but mostly sisterly. First, I am not a doctor. Second, I am not a doctor.
1: the sun is both good and bad for you. Good – we need a healthy dose of vitamin D each day, the best and most effective way to obtain that dose is with several minutes of direct sunlight on unprotected skin. Bad – venturing out into the sun during peak times for extended periods will increase the amount of UVA and UVB rays your skin is exposed to, increasing your chances for sunburns (best case) and skin cancers (worst case).
2: the American Association of Pediatricians recommends that children younger than 6 months old not be exposed to sunlight, and to remain covered when they are exposed to the sun. However, if you must venture out, the AAP agrees that sunblock on a baby is better than sunburn on a baby.
3: most commercial sunblocks and sunscreens are terrifyingly composed of toxic chemicals, most of which we don’t know a whole lot about or what the long-term effects of applying them directly to the skin – your body’s largest and most porous organ. If it’s enough to freak ME out – you know it’s too much.
4: most organic and natural sunblocks are really expensive (dollar per ounce) and you really have to use a lot of it all summer long.
So here’s what I do:
First, I go to the EWG’s study and use the searchable database on the right of the screen. I stalk all of the brands that are readily available to me in my local drugstore and grocery store. I learn that I’ve been applying toxic and ineffective sunblock to my body for decades and freak the heck out. I read all the ingredients and google what I don’t know – and I know a lot. I know that glycols and parabens are pretty bad. I know that things that end in -ol and -cone are bad. I freak out some more.
Next, I search the top-rated baby sunblocks. I make a list of what makes sense to me based on sunblock effectiveness rating and low level of toxic ingredients. I consider products rated lower than a 3.
(important side note – sunblock is better than sunscreen because it contains natural earth minerals that actually block the sun’s rays from entering the skin. Also – sometimes the labels are wrong and sometimes the natural earth mineral is combined with something horrible that you can’t pronounce.)
Then, I find my listed possibilities on Amazon one-by-one and find out 1) how much they cost, 2) how easy they are to find, and 3) how much trouble I’m going to be in when I tell my husband I charged $100 worth of skin cream (again.). OOPS.
Here’s what I do: I buy the best rated and most relatively affordable sunblock sticks and keep them everywhere. I coat the girls faces, shoulders, parts of the hair, tops of ears, etc. with a really good stick. I buy a pretty decent rated sunblock cream, 30+SPF, and use it on their bodies. I send the best rated most affordable sunblock to daycare because I know it’s going to get lost and I’m not spending $20 on protecting someone else’s kid. (sorry.)
1. If I had a million dollars to spend on a summer’s worth of California Baby, I would.
2. Blue Lizard
4. Trukid or ThinkBaby.
5. Aveeno or Coppertone Kids Pure for daycare.
Hope this helps!
(confession – I hate this. I love to be tan. I love to bask in the sun. This sucks.)