Summer is a time for outdoor play, beach vacations, and lots of sunshine – for better or for worse! But don’t let the fear of sun risks ruin your family time.
We all know the dangers of sun exposure, but what about sunscreens? Green Piñata's scientific advisor and home toxicity consultant at A Green Slate, Hannah Gardener, shares the ins and outs of sun protection, including how to protect our kids from the sun as safely as possible.
Choose the Right Sunscreen
Sites like Environmental Working Group are great resources in helping us choose safe, protective SPF for our little ones – but, it is still overwhelming. Gardener recommends Badger Baby for its clean ingredients, USDA organic certification, and it’s active ingredient, non-nano Zinc Oxide.
Here are Hannah’s tips for choosing sunscreen:
- Use sunscreens with non-nano Zinc Oxide as the active ingredient. These tend to go on more white than other sunscreens, but “there’s no vanity at the beach for kids. It’s best to have the safest product,” said Gardener.
- Avoid oxybenzone (endocrine disruptor), retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A), phenoxyethanol (preservative), parabens (preservatives), and fragrances. These are all potentially toxic ingredients, and since there are plenty of options without them, it is best to be cautious and avoid them when possible, especially because sunscreens are not the only source of our exposure to endocrine disruptors (ie hormone mimics) and harsh preservatives.
- Reapply every 2 hours. It is better to apply less sunscreen more often than pile a whole bottle without reapplying. Also, be sure to knead the bottle to prevent separation of ingredients and always reapply after swimming.
- Any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen. If you’re at the beach and forgot your own, using a friend’s Banana Boat SPF 15 on your child is far better than prolonged direct sun exposure sans protection.
- Choose lotions over sprays. Lotions apply more evenly and lack any harmful aerosols you might find in a spray sunscreen. Spray sunscreens can result in inhalation of harmful and irritating ingredients.
Wear the Right Clothes
While sunscreen is important, Gardener stresses the importance of proper clothing.
“The healthiest and safest way to protect your child’s sensitive skin from the damaging rays of the sun is with a good hat, a full coverage swimsuit and access to plenty of shade,” says Gardener. “Staying protected with clothing and shade also helps us extend the lifetime of the pricier, safer sunscreens.”
Above all else, Gardener urges us not to steer clear of sunshine altogether. As long as we’re prepared with proper sun protection and try to get outdoors in the early morning or late afternoon, the sun is the best way of getting that much-needed Vitamin D – so enjoy your summer!