Icky sticky sunscreen... the pro's and con's and how to choose the best one for your family
October 1, 2015
Standing in the "beauty" isle at the chemist trying to choose a sunscreen is overwhelming (god help us when we move down to the toothpaste section!) We are so particular about what we put in our families mouths, but do you stop and think about what you're rubbing into their skin? I personally find this sort of decision making really stressful, yes of course I want to protect Johnny's gorgeous, floorless skin from the percieved evil of the sun, but I can't pronounce half the ingredients on this Banana Boat Bottle... HELP!!!
Ok, so here are some fun facts, take from it what you will.
1) There are 2 types of sun protection: SUNBLOCK which uses ingredients that create a barrier on the skin to reflect the sun's rays. And SUNSCREEN which uses chemicals to penetrate the skin and absorb UV rays.
SUNBLOCKS include Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, these are natural minerals that are not absorbed through the skin and offer barrier protection. They are less likely to cause skin irritation and do not have any systemic effect on health. The down side of these ingredients is that they can leave a "sheen" on our skin and can make us look pale... but not all of them!
SUNSCREENS unfortunately contain many chemicals which are known to cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, disrupt hormones and cause cell oxidation (leading to accelerated aging, cancer and many other disease states)
2) We need to be protected against UVA and UVB rays. Sunblocks achieve this, and sunscreens which are called "broad spectrum" also cover this. UVB causes the skin to burn but it is UVA which leads to longer term skin damage and premature ageing.
3) SPF is not the be-all-and-end-all. SPF is a rating of UVB protection, the percentage of suns rays which we are protected against and for how long it will protect us. SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB and will keep you protected for 15 x longer than your bare skin could handle. So, if the sun is strong enough that you think you would burn in 10 min, an SPF 15 sunscreen will protect you for 150min... that's over 2 hours! For most a 15+ SPF is totally sufficient sun protection.
4) Kids sunscreen. Children's sunscreens use ingredients less likely to irritate the skin, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Unlike chemical ingredients, these protect babies' skin without being absorbed, choose a sunscreen specific for kids and read your labels. If you have sensitive skin choose to use kids sunscreen yourself. It is recommended that babies under 6 months be kept out of the sun altogether.
SO, WHAT DO I CHOOSE???
Well, personally on a day to day basis my Johnny and I are covered in coconut oil. Now it is important to highlight that coconut oil only blocks about 20% of UVrays so it is not appropriate protection for all skin types on all days. But, for going down the street on a mildly warm day it works for us. It also moisturises the skin and smells like I'm on a tropical holiday.
There is nothing less toxic than wearing a hat, a top with sleeves and sitting under a tree so this is always a good thing to remember. (I think this is fairly well imprinted in most Aussies brains!)
And my sunscreen... We use Moogoo Cover-Up Butter Cup. You can get this from healthfood stores or pharmacies. It is SPF15, safe for babies and adults and I can read, pronounce and recognise all the ingredients! Whilst it uses Zinc Oxide, I don't find it particularly thick or greesy and it doesn't make me look like a ghost. There are quite a few "non-toxic" sunscreens available now, I would love to hear of some you've tried and liked!