Thursday, May 30, 2013

Finding a safe and effective sunscreen

Environmental Working Group guide to safe and effective sunscreen
Environmental Working Group's guide to safe and effective sunscreen makes sun safety easy.
When it’s cold out I forget all about sunscreen.  

Even though we half froze over the May long weekend, I noticed on the Sunday night that both of my children had sunburned cheeks from an afternoon spent at an ultimate frisbee tournament.  

It’s the kind of thing I kick myself about because I should know better; sunscreen season is year round not just warm sunny days. 

And so it begins, the annual search for sunscreen that’s safe and effective, a sunscreen that does what it needs to do without being loaded with toxic ingredients that scare me more than sunburns.  

Fortunately Environmental Working Group has just released it’s annual guide to safe sunscreen. The organization rates sunscreen based on toxicity and effectiveness, giving each brand formulation a green, yellow or red rating. The least toxic, most effective brands receive a green rating, the most toxic receive a red rating and those in the middle are rated yellow. 

Few of the green-rated sunscreens will be easy to find in local stores but following some of these guidelines will help to ensure you stay out of the red zone when choosing sunscreen. 

Six tips for choosing safe sunscreen

Avoid products with an SPF that is higher than 50. According to EWG, they give a false sense of security so people spend more time in the sun without reapplying. As well, the SPF only protects against UVB rays (those that cause burns). Look for broad spectrum sunscreens. 

Steer clear of products that include oxybenzone as an active ingredient. This chemical is a known hormone disruptor so you don’t want it seeping into your skin. (About half of sunscreens on the shelf include this chemical.) Instead look for products with avobenzone, zinc oxide and Mexoryl SX). 

Avoid products that include retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A). According to U.S. government studies it may speed development of skin tumors and lesions on sun-exposed skin. Watch for it in daily face creams and lip balms too. 

Avoid spray sunscreens since you can easily inhale them into your lungs. It’s especially important to not use them near children.  

Avoid sunscreens that are combined with insect repellent. Bugs aren’t typically a problem in the sun so why expose your body to extra chemicals?  

Safe and effective sunscreen can be expensive but there are ways to help it go further.

Cover up with sunscreen shirts, t-shirts and hats so there is less skin exposed and limit your time in the mid-day sun. 

Below are some of the recommended sunscreens that you should be able to find more easily. Other's on the EWG master list can be purchased online.
  • Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Face stick SPF 50
  • Alba Botanicals mineral sunscreen
  • Burt’s Bees Babybee sunscreen Stick SPF 30
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin brands
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple & Kid’s Pure and Simple
  • Jason Pure Natural Sun
  • Kiss My Face Kids and Natural Mineral Sunscreen
Green Beaver products (made in Canada) haven’t been evaluated but are considered safe and effective.   

View the full searchable database online or download the free EWG Safe Sunscreen app.
Green Beaver sunscreen is a safe and effective option.

Aveeno Baby mineral stick gets a good rating for safety and effectiveness


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Unknown said...

I have hit the research hard to find out what really are the best things for me and my skin, what I found has me going for natural sunscreen whenever I need to keep my skin safe. It has a lot to offer

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