Summer is almost upon us and that means stocking our pool bags with fresh bottles of sunscreen. Since there is such a big movement toward “safe” skin products, I thought it would be helpful to try out some of the most popular non-drug store sunscreens for my readers.
First, a few things you may not know about sunscreens, according to the American Academy of Dermatology:
- Sunscreens can no longer advertise themselves as waterproof or sweatproof, only water-resistant.
- Water-resistant on labels means the sunscreen is effective for up to 40 minutes in the water. Very water resistant means it’s effective up to 80 minutes in the water.
- SFF15 is the FDA’s minimum recommendation for sunscreen protection, although the American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing at least SPF 30.
- Broad Spectrum means a sunscreen protects against UVB (cannot pass through windows) and UVA rays (causes pre-mature aging rays and can pass through windows)
- One more thing: the FDA began a study in 2011 studying the potential risks of spray sunscreens (because the children inhale the chemicals!). Consumer Reports recommends not using these spray sunscreens until the study is released. Or, if needed, spray the sunscreen into your hands first and then rub onto a child.
So what does it mean when a company claims their sunscreen is “safe”? Although there isn’t a lot of federal oversight on this issue, the simple answer is that it means that the products aren’t made with a lot of chemicals (the names of which you can’t pronounce!). They are usually free of parabens and dyes as well.
The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit group that researches and posts the ingredients of many skin care products. Although I know they aren’t a government regulated organization, for the purposes of this post I am using their rating system. Feel free to do your own research but here are the popular “safe” sunscreens we used on our recent beach vacation:
All these products are made with a nano-zinc oxide and have an excellent rating (1 on a 1-10 scale) with the Environmental Working Group. I really appreciate the light and refreshing scent of Beautycounter sunscreens. All three go on so smoothly and don’t leave any white residue. They aren’t greasy either.
Because these products go on so light you really can’t mess with the recommendation to reapply after 80 minutes of water exposure. I kind of lost track of time at the beach the first day (oops!) and didn’t reapply on my oldest so she got a little too much sun that day. But next few days I reapplied as directed and everything was fine. Regardless of what sunscreen you use, if you are in the sun all day – whether at a baseball tournament or the beach- it might be a good idea to set your phone to remember to reapply everyone’s sunscreens because it’s easy to forget.
Although petite in size, the Beautycounter Protect Stick Sunscreen will get you through a good part of the summer. (I found mine from last summer in the beach bag!). I plan to keep it my purse and even apply it over my makeup in the late afternoon if we end up at the park.
On the other hand, we went through the entire tube of All Over Sunscreen within a few days so I’m not sure I can maintain it all summer (we go to the pool a lot!). But it’s a great sunscreen if it’s in your budget!
FYI, last year the face stick sold out several times so order now if you want one:
Last summer I interviewed pediatrician, Dr. Julie Linderman, of the Mommy M.D. blog about summer safety for children. When I asked her about her favorite “safe” sunscreens for children she told me about the natural and organic Badger line. These are broad spectrum sunscreens, zinc oxide being the only active ingredient. The Environmental Working Group gives this safe line a top rating (1), too.
Note: these products do leave a white residue. The sunscreen is so thick, though, that it makes you feel like your child is being really protected from the sun. So even though you are still supposed to reapply after 80 minutes, you’d probably be okay if you were a little late in reapplying! If I had a baby – and didn’t want to spend a ton of money on sunscreens – I would use this line for sure. But buy the actual cream, not the stick. I felt the face stick was difficult to apply evenly so just I used the cream on my children’s faces.
I used this Badger sunscreen on our entire family but they also have a kids’ and baby version as well. You can buy a pack of two sunscreens for about $28 on Amazon:
My sister brought Vanicream to the beach after her dermatologist recommended it for her son’s sensitive skin. The packaging states it’s free of dyes, lanolin fragrance, parabens, etc. so I looked it up on the EWG’s website and it also received a top rating (1) for a “safe” sunscreen.
After a few days of watching her whole family use this sunscreen, I asked if I could put on my girls. Although it is thick, it also goes on really easily and does not leave any white residue. I put this on my daughter’s sensitive face without any complaints of stinging. (Note: none of the sunscreens above caused any stinging either!)
This is a great sunscreen for the entire family and you can buy two 4 oz. tubes for about $23 on Amazon:
A Few More…
Right after we arrived in Florida I lost my Juice Beauty sunscreen (annoying!) but this is the line that is touted by Gwyneth Paltrow (she’s a part owner, I think!) and is sold at Ulta. It has a moderate “safe” rating with the EWG. It is really light, too. This product is $16 and right now you get a free green apple moisturizer with any Juice Beauty purchase (and it smells amazing!).
Please also know that while I am all for “safe” products, if my mom uses Coppertone once or twice on my children I’m not going to pitch a fit. My interview with a Dallas dermatologist earlier this year helped me not beat myself up if I run out of the expensive stuff and have to buy some Neutrogena at CVS on the way to neighborhood pool.
Oh and one thing that I realized I’ve been doing all wrong since I’ve had children is that I’ve never had a big enough bag for sunscreens! I bought this zip up Lolo Bag water-resistant bag before our vacation and it held all our sunscreens and goggles and this mini fan which comes in handy in the hot summer!
I hope you found this post helpful! If you did, please share on Facebook using the icon at the bottom right of this post! And please share below if you love any particular “safe” sunscreens.