Seriously, I think now a days people are so concerned about the toxicity of things that they should just wrap their whole family up in a bubble and be done with it. You know all of those big name baby soaps that have been around for generations that we used growing up and our parents used and their parents used? Well, now according to the EWG most of this stuff is not too safe as far as the toxins found in them.
Now, I’m all about doing better than what was done before. My kids wear a bike helmet. They ride in carseats. They wear their seat belts at all times. And lathering in sunscreen is a part of our daily routine in the summer.
But There Are Toxins
Now we have to worry about toxins. Okay, to a certain extent I can see watching the products we put on our children’s skin when it comes to soaps and lotions. I don’t pay much attention to it myself, but hey if someone wants to watch those toxins who am I to say that’s wrong. I shop for soaps and lotions based on price though and most of the top of the line low toxin items are not in my price range.
When it comes to sunscreen though, there I have to say the actual use of sunscreen of any kind way outweighs any toxins that might be in it. Because we know for a fact that just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles our child’s chances of getting skin Cancer later in life. And just five sunburns in a persons lifetime increases a person’s chances of skin Cancer. Let me just tell you all, I am completely and totally doomed. I had a terrible blistering sunburn when I was just 10 years old and then again a few years later in college. Both times completely my own fault. My mom always urged the use of sunscreen, but when mom’s not around no one monitors that sunscreen usage.
I am extremely fair skinned as are my children. My middle daughter has more of my husband’s skin tone, but the rest of the kids are pale white. So knowing what the sun can do it’s beyond important to me that I make sure my children’s skin is protected in the sun.
How Sunscreen Works
It is recommended that you use a broad spectrum sunscreen that is rated SPF 15 or higher. If you will be out in the sun all day long then it is recommended that you use a broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher.
What does all of this mean?
Well, broad spectrum means that it protects against the UVA and UVB rays from the sun. These are the Cancer causing rays from the sun. It takes 20 minutes of sun exposure to begin to have an effect on your skin. When you use an SPF theoretically you are increasing that time 15 times longer (for SPF 15) than the 20 minutes you can be in the sun before it has an effect. That’s 5 hours. While it definitely does help protect the skin instructions on all sunscreens warn to reapply every 2 hours no matter what the SPF is and even more frequently if you are swimming or sweating.
The FDA is now going to be taking things even further and requiring sunscreens to more accurately label the effectiveness of their product. No more words like sunblock and water proof and sweat proof will be seen on sunscreen labels. If the sunscreen meets the FDAs standards of broad spectrum coverage, then they will say that it helps protect against skin Cancer. Which for me is invaluable as a way to determine what will be the best sunscreens to use for my family.
What Should Be In Sunscreens?
So to truly protect ourselves and our children from the dangers of the sun, I’m afraid that following EWG’s list isn’t going to do much for you as far as protecting you from the harmful effects of the sun. You know what will do the best at protecting you? The products our parents used to use! Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropics, NO-AD, and Coppertone all have the seal of recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation. Guess our parents did something right.
Even better still is store brands from Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Target made the list. So that means that affordable sunscreens can help protect against the harmful effects of the sun.
What is it that you’re looking for?
You need a broad spectrum sunscreen which provides 3 active ingredients. Here’s what the Skin Cancer Foundation says:
These generally include PABA derivatives, salicylates, and/or cinnamates (octylmethoxycinnamate and cinoxate) for UVB absorption; benzophenones (such as oxybenzone and sulisobenzone) for shorter-wavelength UVA protection; and avobenzone, ecamsule (MexorylTM), titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide for the remaining UVA spectrum.
Most of the top rated EWG sunscreens only contain one maybe two of these ingredients. If you go up to their ranking of 2 on their scale which they still consider to be the best you’ll do a little better in finding these ingredients. But the only one with an EWG ranking of 2 that also has the Skin Cancer Foundation seal on it is Coppertone Waterbabies Pure & Simple Sunscreen lotion.
The sunscreen which my doctor recommended that we use for my youngest last summer before she was even 6 months old was Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection which according to the EWG has the most toxins. It however meets the Skin Cancer Foundation seal of approval and my doctor’s. So, I happily used that on my daughter last summer and will again.
It was highly recommended that we not keep her out in the sun last summer for any length of time, but our doctor knowing that we had three older children who needed to be kept active knew that would be impossible. We had to keep the sunscreen off of her hands and off her face and try to keep her covered with light clothing and in the shade as much as possible.
Myths About Sunscreen
Many people think that using sunscreen causes Vitamin D deficiency. This has not been scientifically proven. We still can receive Vitamin D from food sources like salmon and eggs and enriched with Vitamin D milk and orange juice. But there’s no proof that the Vitamin D from the sun is no longer being absorbed if you’re wearing sunscreen.
Sunscreen is not needed on cold and cloudy days. This simply is not true. Those dangerous rays are still reaching the earths surface. Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean it’s not there and doesn’t mean that it’s not just as dangerous or more so because we can’t see and feel the effects until it’s too late and we’ve already begun to burn.
Sunscreen helps prevent Cancer, but it’s not your only defense. First of all making sure you have the most effective sunscreen possible to start with. And that means you might have to put a few more toxins on your skin. Better to protect against the known danger than the oh maybe it’s going to do damage.
Covering up with clothing including UVA/UVB rated clothes will protect you too. Wearing a hat with a broad brim. Staying in shady areas or avoiding the sun during peek times of the day between 10 and 4. Reapply sunscreen when you are in the sun for extended times or are sweating, swimming, or after towel drying yourself. All of this is what the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you do to protect yourself from skin cancer.
The biggest mistakes we can make with sunscreen is not using the most effective product to help prevent sunburn and not using it correctly. Finding the most effective sunscreen should be our number one priority when it comes to choosing sunscreen. Not if it has the least toxins.
What is your favorite sunscreen to use? Does it have the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Approval? Did you choose it because it was the least toxic on EWG’s list?