Choosing The Right Sunscreen For Your Child
As grown ups, we totally get the need for sun protection. We’ll make sure our kids don sunglasses, hats, and wear rash guards at the beach. We’ll keep them out of the sun between the hours of 10am and 2 pm, and we’ll do our best to make sure they’re lathered up with sunscreen.
Our aim is simple: protect our kiddos perfectly perfect skin from those harmful UV rays and from the threat of that dreaded sunburn.
Proper sunscreen use and application has become an essential part of enjoying the great outdoors, especially when you’re soaking in those glorious sunshiny rays. It can be tempting to grab those misting sprays of sunblock protection that promise to dry instantly and be waterproof, sweatproof, and offer a kajillion SPF protection. But those seemingly perfect sunscreens typically contain chemicals and toxins that are the exact opposite of the protection they promise to provide.
Go into any drugstore, and there will be an entire aisle dedicated to sun care. It can be pretty overwhelming. So what’s a parent to do?
What to look for in a sunscreen
Navigating the sunscreen aisle shouldn’t take a degree in biochemistry. A great sunscreen should be mineral-based, meaning it contains either zinc oxide, titanium oxide or, both. These minerals act as a sun deflector. They sit on top of the skin instead of being absorbed, which gets those short wave UVA rays before they hit the skin! Sure, the trade off is a sunscreen that goes on a little whiter, and may be a bit greaser than those conventional sunscreens, but the lack of carcinogens and harmful toxins is well worth a moment or two of extra rubbing.
Most conventional sunscreens use chemicals as a way to filter UV rays. They also use other chemicals that help sunscreen stick to skin. All these chemicals get absorbed into the skin and can actually be measured in our blood!
A sunscreen shouldn’t contain ingredients that you can’t pronounce or understand. Steer clear of phthalates, parabens, oxybenzone, and octinoxate. Basically, if a product promises to be “waterproof” or “sweatproof”, you can safely assume that they’re using chemicals to filter the UV rays.
Sunscreen for all your parts!
Natural sunscreens have come a long way. New formulations glide on smoothly, smell amazing, and last as long as conventional sunscreens. They come in a variety of options from creams, to sticks, to lip balms and even continuous spray. And they all have something in common: mineral-based products that block both UVA and UVB rays with ingredient lists that make parents feel good.
Goddess Garden has a huge array of fantastic sunscreens from lotions to continuous spray. Not only were they on EWGs list of best sunscreen for 2016, but their whole line of sunscreens are mineral-based and are certified organic. Both Goddess Garden’s Kids Natural and Kids Sport lines feature continuous spray sunscreen options, which use compressed air as a propellant (vs. flammable chemicals typically used in conventional sunscreen sprays), as well as sunscreen creams and sticks. Further, both kids' options include zinc oxide and titanium oxide and offer a SPF 30 with an 80 minute reapplication time, and are lightly scented with lavender. The Baby Natural line, is unscented, relies simply on zinc oxide, features both a cream and a sunscreen stick and is a SPF 40 with 40 minutes reapplication time.
(Check out Goddess Garden’s other great products including their skincare line and essential oils!)
Don’t forget about those lips! Green Beaver has a great organic mineral-based sunscreen lip balm perfect for toting around in your purse or backpack. With a 15SPF and the addition of lip nourishing oils like sunflower and raspberry seed, this lip balm will protect that tender skin, while keeping your lips nice and soft.
Green Beaver also carries a line of mineral-based organic sunscreens for kids and grown-ups alike!
(Need some great soap, deodorant or lotion? Green Beaver’s got you covered. Check out their whole product lineup here)
Rated as one of EWG’s best sunscreens of 2016, Matter’s Substance Baby Sun Care line not only smells lovely, it’s also up to the task of keeping your little one’s skin safe from the sun. Available in both a sun care creme and a baby sun care stick, they provide sun protection for up to 80 minutes, with a 30SPF. Substance relies on zinc oxide as well as shea butter, jojoba and sesame oil for added sun protection.
(Matter Company also carries a number of lovely product for both mom and baby, well worth a perusal.)
Relative newcomer to the mainstream eco-suncare market, Thinkbaby and Thinksport have proven themselves as strong contenders. Featured as one of EWGs best sunscreens for 2016, winner of The Parent Tested Parent Approved award for 2016, and recipient of the Mom's Choice Award Honouring Excellence, Thinkbaby and Thinksport offer mineral-based sunscreens with a 50SPF and a longevity of 80 minutes between applications. This easy to apply mineral-based sunscreen is available in both a sunscreen cream and a stick. Best of all it smells like sweet papaya: a tribute to summers everywhere!
(Thinksport and Thinkbaby also carry some great water bottles, baby containers and more!)
Whichever sunscreen you choose for your little ones, it's important to pick one that's made of ingredients whose names you can pronounce and components you feel good about!!
Safer Sun Tips for Children (and grown ups!)
1) Keep kids out of direct sunlight during the most intense hours of the day (usually from 10 am-2pm).
2) Make sure your child has a sun hat, as well as sunclothes. Light coloured, lightweight fabrics can serve as natural sunprotection as can long sleeved rash guards.
3) Babies under six months of age should not wear sunscreen.
4) Choose sunscreens that have a mineral sunblock and use natural minerals like zinc oxide and titanium oxide that block and deflect the suns rays.
5) Sunscreen needs to be reapplied. Follow the directions on the back of the package. A good rule of thumb though is to reapply after swimming or getting wet (including sweating).