Alright ladies, there been a big hoopla going on about sunscreens, fired up in part by the Environmental Working Group’s latest 2010 report. So to keep it real simple, here’s what you need to know and which sunscreens are my favorites: The first concern and where many leading brands were outed in the “Hall of Shame”, was the exaggerated SPF claims that are blazoned across the tube/bottle of many sunscreens. It’s actually pretty shameful that many brands which are targeted at moms for little babies, are really not very safe. If you see any SPF over 40, you should be extremely suspect. If you see, which you may, a 100 SPF, run a mile as it’s total nonsense. Most sunscreens can only really guarantee a sun protection factor of 30. More important that you find a safe/non-toxic sunscreen with a simple SPF 30.
These exaggerated SPF claims could explain why there has been an unprecedented rise in skin cancer cases over the last few years. We have been slathering on these sunscreens believing that we’re set to lie out for hours, when actually we’re not – especially scary for kids. The Vitamin A issue has also been connected with the cancer scare: Vitamin A is added as an anti-oxidant to many creams, which then boast that it’s “anti-aging”, however Vitamin A also has photocarcinogenic properties, which are obviously a worry. Creams and lotions containing Vitamin A should not be used before going out in the hot sun.
To cap it all, many sunscreens contain oxybenzone or 4-MBC, which are potent hormone disruptors – great, so now we can potentially get skin cancer and/or total hormone disruption and sun damaged skin by using these creams which, until recently many thought were perfectly safe.
Girls – all the above serves to remind us that the skincare and cosmetic industry is poorly regulated and that potential toxicity of many of the ingredients are just not understood. Only 8% of 500 sunscreens passed the EWG test.
Having tested almost all of the “Safe” sunscreens - here’s a review of my top 5, which I hope will help. I mean we all want a safe one, but personally I can live without looking like a greasy clown.
1. All Terrain Kidsport Performance Sunscreen SPF 30: I think this is my top fave for kids and adults. It contains the broad spectrum, goes on really easily. Isnt’ too white, thick or greasy. Actually it’s strangely dry, which I like. It’s great for kids, as they won’t be like a slippery eel when you try to catch them!
2.Solar RX SPF 30: This comes in at a close second. It was developed by a melanoma survivor who has done an insane amount of reseach. It’s a tad greasier than the All Terrain, but you won’t look like a ghost and you’ll be super-safe to go.
3.UV Naturals Baby Sunscreeen SPF30: This is also a fab one. Available at most Wholefoods stores. Does a great job. It’s really wonderful for babies, but a little on the heavy/greasy side for me to use especially when I putting clothes on after applying.
4. Badger SPF 30 for face and body: I just adore all the products from this company, plus the entire company and everyone who works there are fantastically friendly/lovely people. Lola adores their sunscreen as it’s a cute tube (important for an 8 year-old!) and it’s lightly scented. Got really well-reviewed by EWG too.
5. Serious Protection by Cosmedix SPF 28: This is expensive but well worth it. This is what I use on my face only. It’s quite wonderful because it really protects you and yet it’s totally non-whitening and non-greasy, so you can slap it over your moisturizer and you won’t look like an oil slick – plus makeup goes on great right over it.
Also, remember, you can make a beautiful Sesame Sunscreen from Do It Gorgeously – you will love it – inexpensive and fab. It has an SPF of about 15, so good to put on your body as you go through the day – might perhaps need something stronger for baking on a beach.
What about the mineral brush on sunscreens? I like the Colorscience brush-on screens, however, I don’t think you can ever get a really thorough protection from them. I can never see exactly how much I’ve put on and it’s hard to brush it all over your body – so as a top-up over already existing sunscreen for your face, not a bad choice.
Finally keep in mind that we do need vitamin D from the sun. Many experts recommend 10 minutes full-on sun with no sunscreen everyday. Many cancers are now being attributed to a lac of vitamin D. So make sure you get a little sun, not in the heat of the day of course and above all – WEAR A HAT!