Before last summer, I never gave a second thought about safe or unsafe sunscreen. All sunscreen was safe, right? Wrong. Two ingredients, retinyl palmitate or oxybenzone (more about those on Wednesday), are really dangerous. So last summer I made the switch to a safe Badger brand sunscreen and loved it. I loved the smell, the coverage, and most importantly, how I didn’t have to worry about what I was slathering on my children.
When shopping for safe sunscreens, look for a few important things. First, make sure the sunscreen offers protection against both UVA and UVB. Not every sunscreen protects against both kinds of rays, so choose products that have titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone as active ingredients. Look for phrases like “UVA/UVB protection,” “broad spectrum” or “multi spectrum.”
It’s important to note that SPF doesn’t give you extra protection from the sun – it simply allows you to stay outside longer without getting a sunburn. And no SPF blocks 100 percent of the sunburn-causing UVB rays. (Generally, an SPF of 30 is all that most people need.)
2012 Sunscreen Guide
The Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide for 2012 was published last month. This year’s guide includes many more children’s sunscreens. The EWG found children’s sunscreens tend to be safer than adult sunscreens:
“About 63 percent of kids’ sunscreens contain effective mineral ingredients that provide good UVA protection, compared to 40 percent of other sunscreens.”
“Some 72 percent of kids’ sunscreens are fragrance-free, versus 54 percent of other sunscreens.”
“Oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting chemical, is in 37 percent of kids’ sunscreens versus 56 percent of other sunscreens.”
However, 16 brands “list exactly the same ingredients in their children’s products as in their other products – down to the exact percentages of active ingredients. For these brands … the word ‘children’ on the label may be just a marketing gimmick.” (Click here to discover the specific brands.)
The EWG also compiled a 2012 Hall of Shame that explains why specific sunscreens are harmful and should be avoided.
In the 2012 Sunscreen Guide, the Environmental Working Group rated more than 1,800 products. Overwhelmingly they advise mineral sunscreens, made with zinc or titanium dioxide, that are water-resistant creams offering broad-spectrum protection.
Their recommendations for the 188 best beach and sport sunscreens include an ingredient safety rating and a price range. To make sunscreen shopping easy for you, here’s a list of safe sunscreens – they’ve received a “1” (the best) ingredient safety rating. And, these are the cheapest choices. A safe and affordable product is exactly what I like.
Aubrey Organics SPF30 w/Green Tea – 4 oz – Lotion
Badger Baby Sunscreen SPF 30+ Certified Natural (2.9 oz.)
Simple Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30, Unscented
Not satisfied with your choices? For a list of EWG’s 23 best non-mineral sunscreens, click here.
Check back with Accidentally Green this week for more about sunscreen, including two toxic ingredients and basic information you might not know.
Disclosure: Ordering from a link in the post will result in a commission for www.accidentallygreen.com.
Today I’m linking up with:
Latest posts by Hilary Kimes Bernstein (see all)
- The Day I Realized Healthy Choices Don’t Guarantee Health - July 21, 2015
- Avoid Synthetic Bug Sprays with All-Natural Repellents - July 16, 2015
- The Day I Learned I Could Cook Real Food - July 13, 2015
I recently met a mom in Italy whose boys adore the beach. She manages to keep them protected and warm even in the early season cooler waters by putting them in wet suits. When my baby’s bigger, I think that’s the route I’ll take, then you only have a small portion of skin to slather sunscreen on.
Have you studied the sunscreen ingredients that are available in Europe, like the tinosorbs? U.S manufacturers are impeding the FDA’s approval of those more effective substances. We consumers have to wait on the domestic sunscreen producers to use up their stocks of less effective substances. So we are stuck with chemicals that are causing harm to our health, especially to our children. It’s the American way: make money while harming others with the blessing of the very agency that should be protecting us. Endocrine disrupters = more breast cancer? more gender dysphoria? The FDA is not to be trusted (I know – I’m a nurse!) That is why I no longer buy domestic health products. I either buy foreign products or make my own.
Hilary Kimes Bernstein says
I haven’t studied the sunscreen ingredients in Europe … but considering how strict the European standards are compared to those in the U.S., I bet the products are great. Thanks for your comment!