Please tell me I’m not the only one who is constantly slathering SPF 50 sunscreen on their face and body throughout the day, even in the dead of winter, when there is a blizzard outside. Call me crazy (or call me Casper) but I am terrified of sun damage. This may seem odd coming from a Southern girl that I could have been mistaken for the Coppertone baby throughout her childhood. Yes, I was always a tan baby biscuit, but when I learned in my teens that skin cancer (and more importantly melanoma) was prevalent in my family history, I immediately started using sunscreen everyday.
Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and since I live in one of the sunniest states in the country, I wanted to do research on the best sunscreen products for infants and children.
My pediatrician (and the FDA) doesn’t recommend applying sunscreen of any kind on infants 6 months and younger. Infant skin under 6 months of age is very sensitive, so exposure to the chemicals in sunscreens may be much greater, thus increasing the chance of side effects.
After talking with my pediatrician, dermatologist and doing my own research (EWG.org is a great resource) I have combined a list of highly recommended natural sunscreens for children. I have also listed ingredients that are recommended to avoid. ***
Ingredients to avoid:
Two sunscreen ingredients I mainly recommend avoiding is Oxybenzone and Retinyl (aka Vitamin A).
Oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and can cause allergic reactions. It also creates free radicals when exposed to the sun that are harmful.
Retinyl (Vitamin A) may cause tumors and lesions to develop more quickly when exposed to the sun. It’s also linked to heightened risks of skin damage and cancer. It can also cause free radicals that damage the skin.
I will also avoid sunscreens that contain Parabens, Phthalates, PEG’s (polyethylene glycols), Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, SLS/SLES, mislabeled nano-particles and a variety of other chemicals. Basically, I want the sunscreen I use on my child to contain a considerable amount of natural ingredients.
After my research and discussion with medical professionals, I personally recommend choosing a "physical" or "chemical-free" sunscreen made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Unlike chemical based sunscreens, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on top of the skin, forming a barrier against the sun's rays. You may have heard you should look for a "broad-spectrum" product that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Any sunscreen that contains the physical blocker zinc oxide or titanium dioxide will do this. Things to note, make sure to be mindful of the expiration date on the label and peak sun hours between 10am-2pm.
Badger sunscreen has been EWG-approved for years. The 18.7% zinc oxide formula protects from the sun's rays and it's water-resistant. This baby sunscreen is Certified Natural by the Natural Products Association and contains organic oils and beeswax. It has a yummy smelling milk scent from chamomile and calendula.
Coola Baby mineral sunblock is SPF 45, safe for babies 6 months and up and also great for super sensitive skin. The formula is 80% organic with several organic oils, extracts and butters. One thing to note, the “supreme sunblock protection” does come from smaller nano-particles that EWG considers to be more of a risk. Here the nano-particles are less than 100 nm, while all others are greater than 100 nm. Smaller nano-particles are better absorbed by the skin and don't leave a white residue behind, but larger ones may be safer. This is the only potential drawback I found with this one.
ThinkBaby is EWG approved and was also the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care line requirements. You can't get much better than this chemical-free, fragrance-free, water-resistant sunscreen for your family.
Mustela offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays and made with Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, which are safest for babies. This formula is paraben-free, phthalate-free, phenoxyethanol-free, fragrance-free, PABA-free and hypoallergenic and is water and sweat resistant (up to 40 minutes). I truly love this brand and everything they make. I use their baby lotion and shampoo daily on my child and have really enjoyed their sunscreen.
Goddess Garden's 74% organic baby sunscreen is another top choice for the sensitive skin and little ones. The water-resistant formula helps to block the sun with 20% zinc oxide and promises to “nourish baby soft skin with vitamin E, aloe vera and jojoba oil.” This American made sunscreen is also 100% vegan.
Honest is another company that I love. I use a variety of their household and baby products and couldn't be happier (or feel safer) about them. The sunscreen is no different. This zinc oxide based all natural SPF 30 sunscreen is non-greasy and fragrance free. Easy to apply and not super thick to rub on which is nice.
What sunscreen do you recommend for your children? Any sun safety tips you recommend for children? Would love to know what you have learned!
***I am not a doctor or medical professional. These recommendations are purely from my own research, experience and from my conversations with medical professionals. Please consult your pediatrician or dermatologist on any questions regarding sunscreen and children.