Welcome to my Weblog!
Welcome to 1 Mother 2 Another! To read my most recent weblog entries, scroll down. To read entries from one category, click the links at right. To read my journey from the beginning, click here. To find out more about me, click here.
Top 5s
Short on time? Click here to go to my Top 5s Page - links to my top five recommendations in every category from Breastfeeding Sites to Urban Living Solutions.

The Scoop On Sunscreen Part II

My last entry was an introduction to
sunscreen – so if you haven’t read that, please read it

Today we’re getting into the nitty-gritty: specific
ingredients to watch out for, all the sunscreens I’ve tested
so you don’t have to, and my top picks.

Hey, no fair trying to skip to the end.

As I’ve said before, it’s
bewildering trying to navigate the do’s and don’ts of
sunscreen. Environmental Working Group’s href="http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/faqs-2010/"
target="_blank">Sunscreen FAQs
is an excellent,
easy-to-read list of common questions with relatively
easy-to-understand answers, so if you’re still confused at
the end of this then check them out.

So what are we looking for here? I personally am looking for
something that’s water-proof or highly water-resistant, since
we’re in the pool constantly. I’m looking for UVA and
UVB protection. I’m looking for a sunscreen with a mineral
blocker in it, rather than relying solely on chemical blockers,
mostly because the most common chemical blockers are not great for
a body. I’m looking for a lotion, because using a spray
raises inhalation concerns, especially with mineral sunscreens:
nanoparticles (see yesterday’s blog) are exponentially more
dangerous if inhaled than applied topically. So that means no
sprays, and no powders.

And on a selfish front, I’m looking for something
that’s not hugely greasy, doesn’t stink, and
doesn’t make me break out in zits.

If you grab your bottle of sunscreen and flip it over, exactly what
dangerous ingredients are you hunting for? The two at the top of my
list are Oxybenzone and Retinyl Palmitate. Oxybenzone easily
penetrates the skin – much more than some other sunscreen
chemicals – and is associated with allergic conditions and
hormone disruptions. It’s in 60% of sunscreens sold in the
US, and in one study was found in the urine of 96% of the
population. Some doctors are especially concerned with children
being exposed to Oxybenzone, since their surface area relative to
their body weight is so high and their process of elimination
– how their body handles waste – is not as developed.
So there are many doctors encouraging people to avoid Oxybenzone in
children and pregnant or nursing mothers. Exposure can impact the
regulation of the reproductive, thyroid, nervous, and immune
systems, especially if exposed in vitro or in childhood.

But as I said, it’s in the majority of sunscreens in America,
so if you scratch that ingredient off your “acceptable”
list (I did) then you’ve significantly narrowed your choices.

Wait, though – you’re not done. The other chemical I
wanted to talk about is vitamin A. Yes, that good stuff our bodies
need to help us see in the dark and all that stuff. In fact,
isn’t that an antioxidant that helps slow the signs of aging?
Yes, it is, which is why manufacturers have begun putting it in
sunscreens – vanity, and all that. Unfortunately, the retynil
palmitate used in sunscreens has been shown to actually cause
excess skin growth, and in sunlight can form free radicals that can
cause damage. Which led the FDA to do a study on the
photocarcinogenic properties of it. So conventional wisdom now says
that retynil palmitate used in sunscreen will actually HASTEN the
onset of skin cancer. Good stuff, right? Look at it this way
– all those lotions and creams in your cabinet – the
Retinol and whatnot – don’t they all have big warnings
on them that say “using this product may make you more
susceptible to the sun’s rays, so please use sunscreen so you
won’t sue us”? Why would you want that in your

There you go. Find a sunscreen that’s got some low-risk
chemicals like Avobenzone or Octisalate or Tinasorb, and add them
to the mineral blockers like zinc oxide, then find a sunscreen with
those ingredients and you’re good to go.

Relax – you’ve got two secret weapons. One is the
EWG’s website. Go to their href="http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/finding-the-best-sunscreens/"
target="_blank">sunscreen search page
, and you can enter
in your sunscreen and see how it measures up. You may not have to
pitch yours after all. They’ve also got their top
recommendations, both in mineral sunscreens and chemical ones.
Check their site to make sure your sunscreen is low in worrisome
chemicals, and gets at least a “good” or
“excellent” for both UVA and UVB protection.

But I’m your other secret weapon, and I’ve done a lot
of that work for you.

I’ve ordered several of EWG’s top-rated sunscreens, and
I have to say I’ve been disappointed in some. California
Baby’s unscented waterproof one, for example, definitely did
not protect adequately. I spent half an hour in the sun – out
of the water – and felt my shoulders starting to turn pink.
So I’ve had to ditch that, and you know how much I love
California Baby in general.

I’d also tried Blue Lizard in the past – out of
Australia, highly touted in some circles. Not listed so highly by
the EWG, and incredibly oily. Scratch. Likewise Badger’s
waterproof sunscreen: it did work, but was SO oily I smelled like a
macadamia nut or olive, and not in a good way. And Badger
especially required a significant amount – I probably used
one whole bottle in just two days between me, Cora, and Maddie.
Badger did, though, prevent visible sun damage.

So I’ve hit many disappointments, but I am here to tell you
that I have found a few that work well, and they are wonderful.

Top on my list is href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FVanicream-Sunscreen-Sport-SPF-113%2Fdp%2FB000FCY95A%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbeauty%26qid%3D1277088927%26sr%3D1-1-spell&tag=1mother2anoth-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325"
target="_blank">Vanicream Sunscreen Sport, SPF 35
. This
stuff is really really great. It’s much lighter weight than
most zinc sunscreens, much less oily, and is great for sensitive
skin or people with allergies or such. I reapply as usual and have
found it pretty effective. The girls have been using it almost
exclusively since the beginning of the month, and though Cora and
Maddie’s forearms and lower legs are all beginning to brown,
there are no hard and fast tan lines and we’ve seen no pink
skin or discomfort. And at about ten bucks a bottle, it’s one
of the cheapest “fancy” sunscreens I’ve tested.
Best place to buy is Amazon, though you may find it locally in a
health or specialty store.

The other sunscreen I’ve found that works well is href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FSun-Science-Sport-Formula-SPF%2Fdp%2FB001MA9MB0%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbeauty%26qid%3D1277089130%26sr%3D1-1&tag=1mother2anoth-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325"
target="_blank">Sun Science Sport Formula SPF 30
. It goes
on light, like a lotion, and has menthol and vanilla in it as well,
which makes it smell yummy. The first time I applied it I think I
may not have waited long enough, because it felt as if it were
rinsing off when I got in the water. I didn’t notice a loss
of power, though, and it didn’t act that way the second time
I used it, so it may have been just me. At $22 a bottle, though,
it’s definitely pricier.

You obviously don’t have to buy the two I’ve ended up
with; if you’re in love with your sunscreen and refuse to use
anything else, remember that ANY sunscreen is better than no
sunscreen at all. But a little bit of searching through EWG’s
database may find you a perfectly acceptable substitute
that’s a lot healthier for you to use. Bottom line, we use a
lot of the stuff during the summer, so try to find the healthiest
you can.

And happy swimming.


Post a Comment

House Rules

Here are the rules for posting comments on 1mother2another.com. Posting a comment that violates these rules will result in the comment’s deletion, and you’ll probably be banned from commenting in the future.

1) Register first. If you would like to post a comment, you must create an account with us. Check out the home page to do so.

2) Constructive comments only. If you cannot maintain a respectful tone in your posting, even in disagreement, your comment will be deleted. We’re all trying to find our way in this thing and are struggling to be the best moms we can. If you disagree with something I say, feel free to politely email me. If you disagree with another reader’s posting, you’re welcome to kindly post in reply. Vitriolic diatribes will be deleted. This site is about encouraging and supporting, not tearing down and chastising.

3) Questions welcomed. If an entry raises a question, you’re welcome to email me directly or post it. Keep in mind that postings will result in public replies by strangers and not just me.

4) Don’t steal. All original writings contained within this website are under copyright protection. If you link to us, please credit us as your source and provide a link back to our website. If you're interested in using an excerpt in published material, please contact us.

5) Share your photos! We'd love to have photos from our registered readers to show on our home page under "Maddie's friends". Email us a jpeg of your little one's best photo to photos@1mother2another.com. Please, no photos from professional photographers which fall under copyright protection.