Last updated on February 1st, 2019 at 06:02 pm
I’ve recently delved back into the world of sunscreen research. WHO KNEW that after all the years of being told to wear sunscreen I’d learn that it is full of chemicals and toxins that aren’t good for babies?! Or adults for that matter. Better yet, most of the products on the shelves at the grocery store labeled “baby sunscreen” aren’t actually non-toxic options. My husband and I are very fair skinned (OK, translucent) and that, combined with a family history of skin cancer has given me a healthy fear of the sun. Needless to say, I’ve spent some time worrying about finding a non-toxic sunscreen that I could put on my baby.
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During the summer when baby gets a healthy dose of sun, you’ll be using sunscreen a lot. Kids in daycare need to wear it in to school and will have it reapplied in the afternoon. That’s a lot of sunscreen. I have two that I like, but with the need to put it on more liberally EVERY DAY I was hoping to find a spray option that would be super easy. More on that later, but first off — our non-toxic sunscreen saga… and how my 10 hours of research can save you some serious time.
What could you be researching for 10 hours?
Ok, hear me out. 10+ hours researching seems like a lot, but after looking through multiple sources, understanding (mostly) the chemicals and ingredients to avoid, and then sifting through Amazon reviews to find out what real parents had to say about the products, I feel justified in the time I spent. And I can’t seem to stop, but hopefully aggregating all the information here will keep me from going back down this rat hole — at least until next summer.
First things first – most sunscreen labels say that they are for babies over six months of age, and depending on when you have your child you’re likely going to need to use some type of sun protection before then. During our first summer, I asked my pediatrician what to do and her advice was to use sunscreen as needed, but stick with sun protective clothing and shade when possible. This wasn’t a huge problem and I think we only used sunscreen a couple of times before six months, but that’s probably because I was a hermit and afraid to leave the house with a crying baby. That said, I was SO worried about every little thing that touched her body at first. I obsessively googled baby sunscreen before I bought one, and learned a few key things.
What to look for
First up – some ingredients are good, and some are not. And a lot of the “not good” ingredients were in every sunscreen in my cabinet. EVEN MANY “BABY” SUNSCREENS HAVE THESE INGREDIENTS. The best thing you can do is read the ingredient label before purchasing. Here is a quick graphic to keep in mind:
I found the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website when researching sunscreen and multi purpose cleaners and became a little too obsessed with their ratings.. I looked at every sunscreen on their 2017 Kids Guide and cross referenced with Amazon reviews to make my final choice. After reading some bad reviews about sunscreen that was impossible to rub in, incredibly thick and greasy, or didn’t work and kids got burned, I took a leap and both ordered ThinkBaby and ThinkSport. They are both great and while little lady does turn a bit white, she smells good and I definitely know which areas got sunscreen. At +$10 for 3 oz. it definitely isn’t cheap, but it wasn’t the most expensive option on the list either. I’ve never seen it in stores but haven’t had a problem getting it on Amazon.
We’ve also tried Blue Lizzard sunscreen because of the good reviews on Amazon, the EWG rating, and the fact that it is slightly cheaper per ounce than Think Baby. Unfortunately, it isn’t rated on Safemamma.com or Gimmethegoodstuff (see below for more information) but the ingredients looked ok to my admittedly uneducated eye.
Why I’m still researching… will the struggle never end?
Although I’m happy with Think Baby, now that we’re using sunscreen more frequently I was hoping to find a spray option. I’m searching for one I don’t have to rub in so much while she’s squirming around. I know, I know, I should just be happy that I found a (reasonably priced?) sunscreen that isn’t toxic and protects her from burns. But I can’t leave it alone, so back on google, I went. I then learned that you’re really not supposed to spray kids with sunscreen. Fantastic. Apparently, the aerosol can get sunscreen in their lungs, and you might not get optimal coverage. Why do they sell this stuff if you’re not supposed to use it?!
Anyhow… I haven’t yet been able to find a spray non-toxic sunscreen that seems ideal. Many of the “natural” brand reviews say that they are too chunky to spray or that they don’t work, neither of which I want to deal with. I’m going to keep looking.
You need to understand the source of the article you’re reading before determining that the sunscreen is safe. I’ve read many “safe sunscreen” articles in my research that include products that score terribly on the EWG rating list. They even include chemicals deemed harmful. While I’m no expert on the subject, I did find a couple of really good sites with detailed information from ladies who know their stuff on ingredients and provided good context for what to avoid. I’ve listed them below for your reading pleasure:
WHAT ABOUT CLOTHING?
I’m so glad you asked. Since I’ve had such a love/hate relationship with sunscreen, I’ve also looked at sun protective clothing. I try to be diligent about making sure little lady has a good UPF 50 hat and bathing suit for sun exposure.
Her first summer she was so tiny I had to buy an adjustable hat because even the smallest sizes didn’t fit. This one did the trick. For the few times we were in the sun she was protected. This summer I got this one because it had a longer bill in the back to protect her neck. I got white because it goes with everything so we only had to get one. It is also adjustable to make it tighter around the head if needed.
However, my favorite purchase so far has to be her ruffle butts rashguard bathing suit. Now I don’t have to worry about her arms getting burned. The hat covers her neck, so we really only worry about her legs and feet!
Although I’m confident with our non-toxic sunscreen choices, I feel better knowing that I have an extra insurance policy with sun protective clothing. If only ruffle butts made this rash guard with full pants I’d be in business.
Let me know if you have any other tips to beat the burn!
The Mamma’s List for Sun Protection: