I blinked and all of a sudden it's hot, thick and dry out. Oh that must mean summer has arrived here in good ol' California. The lush green plants from all the rain have dried up and turned to golden crisp. I do love a warm glow, beats the dull grey skin that washed up from winter! Memorial Day weekend is a few days away which means the beach and pools are calling. Our delicate skin will soon be super exposed to the gorgeous rays of Mr. Sun. Well, actually I am a tanner, I am not the one with the T shirt on at the beach and a hat so wide it provides shade for the entire family. I am probably one step closer to a brown leather chair but oiled up I smell like a coconut vacation. However, let's be real, these days as a mom there is less time for tanning the goods and more time running around trying get every inch of your child covered in white block as they keep inching further and further away from you.
Sunscreen seems to be some what controversial these days; incredibly needed in order to protect one from burning yet it's also proving to be a health concern in some cases. Confusing? I thought so. Let me give you the low down on the whole sunscreen debate.
Aerosol Spray Sunscreen
I have one complaint about this whole new phenomenon of spraying our children down from head to toe. After observing parents for a few years now it is true to say that most kids get in the water within 2 minutes of being sprayed. Which means the sunscreen washes right off leaving the child unprotected and creating a toxic layer of film in the pool and ocean's waters. I am sure you have seen a hotel pool after a busy day and there is literally this cloudy greasy look to it, its mainly sunscreen. It really is not good; for our kids or our environment!
The problem with some aerosol sunscreens is that they do not provide a thick enough coating when applied which can expose sensitive young lungs to hazardous chemicals. Children are inhaling these toxins, what you can't see is a cloud around your child as you spray all over them. One in three sunscreens on the market for kids is now a spray bottle because of its easy application. The truth is that although it seems practical you are much more likely to have way less protection because of the amount of places missed and the thin coating. The FDA has expressed doubts and concerns about its safety and reliability but it's popularity keeps it on the shelves.
Sky - High SPF's
It is not necessarily true to say the higher there SPF the more protected you are. What is misleading is that SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor but this term only refers to the UVB rays the sum omits. These are the rays which burn the skin causing it to turn red. UVA rays are just as harmful as they penetrate through the skin into the body causing sun stroke, compromising the immune system, possibly skin cancer and skin aging. By using 50SPF or higher people are under the impression they can stay out in the sun for much longer, which means whilst we may be protecting ourselves from the burning of our skin we are actually raising the risk of other kinds of skin damage. Someone who would normally redden after 30 minutes in the midday sun could stay out for 50 hours with SPF 50. High-SPF products require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals than low-SPF sunscreens. Some of these ingredients may pose health risks when they penetrate the skin, for which they have been linked to tissue damage and potential hormone disruption. The FDA is considering banning SPF over 50 for this reason.
A vast amount of popular sunscreens have oxybenzone as an active ingredient. This chemical penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic skin reactions.
Retinyl palmitate, is a form of vitamin A. On sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies. The FDA has been studying this 'inactive ingredient' for years has yet to make a decision if its deemed safe or not. This does not sound like a needed ingredient to me...
*The worst kids sunscreens on the market which contain these ingredients are Banana Boat spray/lotion, Coppertone spray/lotion/stick, CVS sunstick, Up & Up stick and Neutrogena spray/lotion.
'Sunscreen is a unique body care product: consumers are directed to apply a thick coat over large areas of the body and reapply frequently. Thus, ingredients in sunscreen should not be irritating or cause skin allergies, and should be able to withstand powerful UV radiation without losing their effectiveness or forming potentially harmful breakdown products. People can potentially inhale ingredients in sunscreen sprays and ingest some of the ingredients they apply to their lips, so ingredients must not be harmful to lungs or internal organs. Further, sunscreens commonly include ingredients that act as “penetration enhancers” and help the product adhere to skin. As a result, many sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the body and can be measured in blood, breast milk and urine samples.' -EWG
Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different mechanism for protecting skin and maintaining stability in sunlight. The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of two to six of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. A handful of products combine zinc oxide with chemical filters. The scary fact I found was that all of the chemical filters were found in mothers milk. Shocking.
What you want in your sunscreen...
Mineral based sunscreens is the way to go; meaning the main ingredients should be either zinc oxide or titanium oxide. These rate much better as they don't penetrate the skin to reach living tissue. They do provide strong sun protection from UVA rays, they don't break down as fast and have less health concerns. Zinc is the preferably choice though over protective properties. You also want to avoid sprays all together as these pose threat for inhalation. However, mineral oils still contain nanoparticles which is an inert chemical used to coat the mineral because they are photocatalysts which means when exposed to UV radiation they can form free radicals that damage surrounding cells. So be careful when trying to make your own sunscreen. There is not much evidence at the moment about what these nanoparticles contain as the companies do not need to disclose at the moment but research so far states that it does not get in to the skin tissues.
Here is a partial list of the best children's sunblocks on the market for 2017:
Bare Republic Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Sunumbra Sunkids Natural Sunscreen, SPF 40
Click here to see the full list but the ones above are the cleanest!
NOTE: It is not just the brand its the specific type which makes it safe, no fragrance, no spray, no sticks... some of these brands have other lotions which don't score well so just be aware.
Now bust out those bathing suits and go for a dip. I am so excited to cool off this weekend knowing my family is naturally and safely protected. I suggest buying the smaller sizes and trying it out, sometimes it takes a couple brands before you find one you love.