With summer in full swing and the sun shining high, it’s high time we had a little chat about that crucial summer staple, sunscreen.
I know, I know, with the number of choices out there, selecting the right sunscreen for our kiddos (and for ourselves) can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. You’d think slathering any sunblock would do the trick, but as it turns out, we have to be a tad bit more selective than that.
So, I recently came across this annual report put together by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a group dedicated to protecting our health and the environment. This was their 17th report, and they’ve been digging into sunscreens for quite some time. Their latest guide really opened my eyes about the whole sunscreen scene.
You see, they found that only a quarter of sunscreens in our stores offer the kind of protection we need without incorporating ingredients that could be questionable. Moreover, it’s true that only 25% have broad-spectrum protection without any potentially harmful ingredients. Consequently, it makes you pause and think, doesn’t it?
Now, before you go dumping all your sunblock bottles into the nearest bin, there’s a silver lining here too. The report showed some promising changes. For instance, the use of a common sunscreen ingredient called oxybenzone, which has had its fair share of controversy, has been dropping significantly. Back in 2019, it was in 60% of sunscreens, but by 2023, only 6% of sunscreens still use it. That’s progress!
But let’s get to the meat of the matter. What sunscreens should we actually be using? Well, the EWG’s guide tested over 1,700 sunblock products, breaking them down by safety, effectiveness, and even what they’re best used for, such as beach days, everyday use, or for our little ones.
In the report, they ranked products based on UVB and UVA protection. Furthermore, they considered the balance of the two and how stable the active ingredients are. Interestingly, some ingredients break down in sunlight or react with others, making them less effective.
Moreover, mineral sunscreens (those using titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) are given the thumbs up by the FDA. Additionally, they have improved a lot and no longer leave that ghostly white cast we used to see. Plus, they work differently by deflecting and blocking the sun’s rays, while chemical sunscreens absorb UVB rays and give off heat as they break down.
The EWG even has a verification program where manufacturers meeting strict guidelines can sport the EWG’s mark of approval on their labels, assuring us parents that they’ve passed muster. Right now, there are three brands with a total of twelve products that have gotten this seal of approval:
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Face, Unscented, SPF 30
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Kids, Face, Unscented, SPF 30
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Kids, Tropical, SPF 30
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Orange Blossom, SPF 30
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Tropical, SPF 30
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Unscented, SPF 30
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Kids, Unscented, SPF 30
- Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
- Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
- Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
While this is a good starting point, let’s not forget that sunblock isn’t a one-stop solution. No sunblock, no matter how good, can block out 100% of the sun’s rays. It’s always crucial to apply it correctly (don’t forget the ears, neck, and back of hands), reapply every couple of hours, seek shade when the sun’s at its peak, and throw on some protective clothing too. And remember, sun safety isn’t just for summer – it’s a year-round commitment!
So, there we have it! Taking a deep dive into the world of sunscreens, their ingredients, and how we can make sure we’re choosing the right ones for our family, we can ensure the safety of our skin, and our children’s, remains our top priority. Furthermore, with the right information and a healthy dose of caution, we can enjoy our time in the sun responsibly, without the burn!
Stay sun-safe out there, parents!
- Sunscreens, EWG’s Guide to. “Sunscreen Guide – Rated by Scientists.” EWG, www.ewg.org/sunscreen/.
- “Dramatic Decline: Oxybenzone Use Plummets to Only 13 Percent of Non-Mineral Sunscreens.” Environmental Working Group, 1 June 2023, www.ewg.org/news-insights/news-release/2023/05/dramatic-decline-oxybenzone-use-plummets-only-13-percent-non.
- MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Molly Adams. “Mineral or Chemical Sunscreen: Which Should You Choose?” MD Anderson Cancer Center, 30 June 2022, www.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/is-mineral-sunscreen-better-than-chemical-sunscreen.h00-159540534.html.