Sunday, July 6, 2008

moms know best

I've recently been informed of a CNN article on the safety of sunscreen (thanks, Denise!).  Sunscreen is definitely a must, but it turns out there are some sunscreens that are safer than others because as you can imagine, sunscreens can be loaded with chemicals.  Additionally, it turns out some aren't doing as good of a job as you think they are doing.

I chuckle a bit at the timing of this CNN article.  I've seen information on the safety of sunscreen on the "mom-blogs" for months and yet CNN is coming out with the info just now.  Better late than never though; sources like CNN are trusted by a wide audience.  It reminds me of the times when I've told my husband some information only for him to validate me a couple months later after he hears it on NPR.  ;)  I swear I'm going to keep my finger on the pulse of mommy bloggers and my mom friends on my message board because they really are "in the know" when it comes to current events in regard to children!  Go mommies!  

I first was alerted to the sunscreen issue by my friend Shannon.  It makes sense to me that the chemicals in sunscreen might be harmful; but when you are trying to prevent a problem it's easy to forget about the ones you may be creating along the way.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not AT ALL trying to discourage sunscreen usage, but I do hope to become smarter about finding the safest ones.

Both safemama and zrecs have some great info on their sunscreen research and reviews.  But my all time fav resource is the Environmental Working Group (EWG)'s Cosmetic Database.  Here you can find both the toxicity rating and UVA/B protection rating for most sunscreens.  And if your sunscreen isn't listed, simply add it to the database by listing all the ingredients.  The EWG did their own sunscreen study and this is the result.  Look for toxicity ratings with low numbers.

I've tried 3 of the "safer" sunscreens.

California Baby, No Fragrance, SPF 30:  This is a highly rated sunscreen by both safemama and EWG.  So that holds major clout for me.  I do like that it has no scent and that it's safe.  It is pretty thick though and does leave a bit of a white film on the skin but it's no biggie.  It's water-resistant so that is also a huge plus for me.

Be forewarned, it took me 3 weeks to receive this sunscreen from Amazon! I've heard it's on back order almost everywhere.

Blue Lizard, Sensitive (or Baby) SPF 30:  This is rated good by EWG.  What I like about this sunscreen is that it's more attainable being that it's available at CVS.  It's more affordable as well.  The physical attributes (somewhat thick) seems somewhat similar to California Baby to me.

Weleda Children's Sunscreen, SPF 18:  I LOVE how this goes on smooth and doesn't produce a thick film!  It's a bit oily but simply shaking the tube helps a great deal with that.  I think it smells a little strong but my husband likes the scent.  Safemama recommends it and it's also water-resistant.  It wasn't rated by the EWG until I entered it into their database.  The product received somewhat of a high rating (high = bad) so that confused me since Weleda is known for their natural products.  I think that the ingredient "fragrance" is throwing the score off.  Typically fragrance involves harmful chemicals.  But when it comes to Weleda products, the fragrance is actually derived from essential oils (something that is in asterisks on the ingredients list that the EWG database can not pick up).  However, the product also doesn't get a great UVB protection rating so that turns me off a bit.  It does have a high UVA protection rating.

I plan to only use California Baby on my infant.  It's rated very good across multiple sources.  I will use any of the above on my 2.5 year old (depending on the circumstances) and on myself and my husband.

P.S.  The cosmetic database is useful for looking up any cosmetic product to find it's toxicity rating.  Not all products are listed but the database is growing each day and you can help by entering products and their ingredients as well.


Shannon said...

I love California baby too - we use it a lot. I'm almost out so I bought some Mexitan from a local organic shop and will try it out this week. I try to buy local when I can, and the Cali Baby stuff I had to order from the US. I'll let you know how the Mexitan is - it says it's perfect for kids and we have a big summer vacation coming up so I assume we'll be using lots!!!

I had to chuckle at CNN too. It's July people! We've been using sunscreen for a couple months now!

Anonymous said...

We use California Baby- I got it through I have the stick version also, which is GREAT because Maggie will put it on herself! And, then they don't get it in their eyes as easily. J

Kay said...

I tried using California Baby recently for the first time and found it VERY difficult to wash off. I know it's supposed to be waterproof, but even with bathing/scrubbing I could still see it on my little one's skin. Personally, I don't feel comfortable leaving it on my baby's skin to absorb indefinitely. Did you have this problem?

Tricia said...

J - I wanted to get the stick version of CA Baby but I can't find it anywhere! Even the company that sells it from Amazon is indefinitely backordered. Glad you like it!

Kay - Thanks for your comment. I too would be worried if I couldn't get the sunscreen off. I agree that CA Baby goes on very thick. I think most "less chemical" sunscreens do unfortunately. However, I haven't noticed a problem in getting it off of my baby. I try to spread the sunscreen out really well as I apply. It can take time to spread it out thin so that there is no noticeable white film on her; but perhaps that step is what is making it easier to wash off for me? I'll pay extra attention next time I apply/wash and will get back to you if I notice the same thing you are noticing. The Weleda product does not go on thick like CA Baby but I'm confused why the EWG rating is high. I may take some time in researching that more as I'd love to recommend that product whole-heartedly.

Amanda said...

Thanks for the great info Tricia! We are going to buy some Blue Lizard today. Both my DD's have eczema, so I'm extra concerned about their skin! Thanks, too, for the links to these products. I ended up ordering some CA Baby cream for them even though the sunscreen was unavailable.