I think this has been one of my favorite topics of late.
Generally, I direct anyone and everyone right to Safe Mama's Sunscreen Cheat Sheet and now with the updated list for 2012, I'm directing even more traffic there (I think). I have to say that I'm really grateful for the people who have been researching and putting out this information. This website will define for you the dangers of chemicals found in sunscreen but also explains particle size and why you should choose a micronized zinc over nano-particle zinc. I know it sounds complicated, but it's really not. The explanations are simple and there is even a list of the best products to use.
At the Queens Mama's Expo, I spent an hour with the ladies from the hip new Queens store Raising Astoria. I had a cheat sheet of my own and was willing to talk to mamas and other caregivers about choosing the proper sunscreen for your little one. I found it disheartening how many people were just not interested.
In my mission to detox my own life (and that of my family), I have found that traditional sunscreens can and do usually contain harmful ingredients. However, one bad, blistering sunburn as a child is not only incredibly painful, according to the Skin Cancer foundation it also increases your child's risk of skin cancer by 50%! There is a lot to be said about keeping your child in the shade, but as the mother of a very active 15 month old I know this is also very difficult.
This summer we have been using both Eco Skin Care and Dolphin Organics sunscreens on ourselves and our boy. There are more brands I'd like to try, but I'm not made out of money. Our boy is on the fair side and skin cancer does run in my husband's family so not only are we on board with sunblock but we use an adorable sun hat and well as a summer shirt (my husband swears by these). The hat we purchased last summer when he was an infant and the newborn (0-6 month size) was gigantic. I had to tie a string around the side to make it fit. This summer it fits perfectly, so really it was a great investment. I don't know of many baby items you can use for 2 summers! He hates it but once he forgets it is on (the tie around his chin helps matters), it usually stays on for an entire playground outing. My husband and I are also fond of the Badger sunscreen lip balm (for us) that I mentioned a few posts ago, but warning, it does make your lips white!
The following is the information supplied by the handout I was giving out at the Queens Mamas Expo. As usual, I always list my references. The general idea of this blog is not to tell people what to do, but to share my own experiences in detoxing my life and also to guide you on where to find information so that you can make your own informed decisions.
How do you pick a natural sunscreen that is safe for your children?
1. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Choose a mineral based sunscreen that contains non-nano Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide.
2. Avoid Oxybenzone, Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and added insect repellents.
3. Avoid sprays and powders due to inhalation concerns
4. Choose fragrance free when possible
5. Always read your ingredients.
6. Look up your sunscreen on ewg.org/skindeep to see what your brand’s ingredients rate and why.
Important note: High-SPF sunscreens (50+) do not protect you longer and contain more of the sunblocking materials. The lower the SPF, the lower the amount of ingredients. Choose a sunscreen between 15 and 50+ SPF and reapply as needed, especially if exposed to water or sweating.
For Infants and Children:
For Infants, sunscreen is not recommended until 6 months of age. Infants should not be in direct sunlight. You should keep your baby in protective clothing and hats, under an umbrella or stroller canopy and try to avoid the midday sun.
For toddlers and older children, always do a patch test on the child’s wrist before use to make sure no allergy occurs. Stay in the shade as much as possible and again, reapply often (especially if exposed to water or sweating).
For more information on sun safety and for more recommended products, visit: http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/top-sun-safety-tips/