Thursday, June 3, 2010


I find the most fascinating things on Twitter. Do you tweet? If not, you should - if for no other reason then to follow some of the news services. Huffington Post, CNN, Anderson Cooper and the Washington Post all have awesome and informative news tweets.

Anyways, while trolling Twitter last night, I ran across an article about sunscreens and the chemicals in them. Some sunscreens have so many chemicals in them they are considered toxic - especially when applied on small children.

On the flip side, some sunscreens are so weak, they don't provide much UVA protection. That would definitely give you a false sense of security out in the sun, slathered up in sunscreen, while not being protected from UVA rays, which are very damaging.

The really infuriating part was reading that the least toxic chemical sunscreens are only available in Europe. The FDA has been sitting on their approval for years. The FDA has also never finalized sunscreen regulations, meaning companies can basically sell whatever garbage they can come up with and market it with whatever claims they want to. Ridiculous.

I'm something of a sunscreen freak. I'm pale, have lots of moles and have had several bad burns in my lifetime. I'm very, very careful now. I don't tan, stay under the shade when I'm outside, wear lots of sunscreen and get evaluated by a dermatologist annually. I'm very careful with Charlie, as well. I'm sure you can tell from the pictures that he is extremely pale. I'd strongly prefer our sunscreen not kill us, though.

The article also posted a link to the Environmental Working Group, which has has just released it's 4th annual Sunscreen Guide, listing the best and worst sunscreens. They evaluate each brand for how much protection they offer from UVA and UVB rays and what chemicals are used to provide that protection.

Unfortunately the guide doesn't tell you why certain chemicals or bad. You'll have to google certain ingredients listed on the brand you are looking at to determine what health risks they pose. But it's a good starting point. They rate sunscreens on a 1 to 10 scale. 1 being safest and best protection and 10 being full of toxic chemicals and not offering much protection.

I was sad to see the Banana Boat Baby sunscreen I've been using on Charlie is pretty toxic and doesn't protect at all against UVA rays. In fact, it was the first one listed in the Sunscreen Hall of Shame, which contains several major baby sunscreen brands. It smells nice and is well priced but out it goes. The dry touch Neutrogena sunscreen I like didn't score well either. Sad.

Out of the brands on their Best Sunscreens list, I have only really seen one of them in the store - California Baby. However, I haven't looked that hard, so the others may be widely available too. I remember thinking the California Baby products were kind of expensive. After reading the sunscreen guide, though, the cost is feeling much more worth it.


Lindsay said...

Darn. Now that this has been brought to my attention twice, I should probably pay attention. You can expect that we go through a LOT of sunscreen at the Crawford House. Darn.

Anonymous said...

I loved this entry. I had to check out Finn's sunscreen and my daily face lotion with SPF. Both are rated horribly! I am glad that it has been such a long winter so I didn't put poison all over Finn without knowing. Who knew Aveeno was so bad?

Stephanie said...

Bummer - I also use(d) the Neutrogena Dry Touch and thought I was doing really well. At least it's not one of the worst, but still. I haven't heard of any of the ones on the "best" list...I'm going to check at Whole Foods and will let you know what I find...I was going there tonight anyway. :)

Stephanie said...

Well, Whole Foods has a couple of the brands (Badger, California Baby, and Jason's Naturals). Unfortunately, none of those carry the magic words "won't clog pores." So, good news for babies, but not so much for pale, acne-prone 30 somethings like myself.