Best Zinc Oxide Sunscreen for Your Family
I wear sunscreen every day of the year — and since our skin is our largest organ, and everything we put on it penetrates into our body, it is very important to buy non-toxic skin care products for our family.
Skincare companies are allowed to claim that a sunscreen is “gentle” even though it might be full of toxins, and even I, who is adamant about only buying safe sunscreen, got duped into buying a sunscreen with toxic ingredients in the past.
I bought Noodles & Boo’s Play-Day SPF-30 sunscreen because I had a certificate for their store. I like to stock up on quality sunscreen products, so that seemed the most practical way to use the money.
Noodle & Boo® markets itself as “the premier leader in luxury maternity and baby skin care” and their “products are made with the finest ingredients, and are safe and gentle enough to be used on newborns.”
Their sunscreen sells at a premium price; 4.5 ounces for around $20.
That description makes it sound like you’re getting all-natural and non-toxic ingredients. Instead, this is the active ingredient list on the back of Noodle & Boo’s sunscreen:
- Octinoxate (hormone-like activity; reproductive system, thyroid and behavioral alterations in animal studies)
- Octocrylene (found in mothers’ milk; skin penetration in lab studies; relatively high rates of skin allergy)
There is nothing “safe” about Noodle & Boo’s sunscreen, and I’m not putting it on myself or my child.
The Environmental Working Group — my go-to guide for everything sunscreen and health info — notes that octinoxate, may lead to developmental and reproductive toxicity as it easily penetrates skin, and gives is a hazard rating of 8, 10 being the worst.
EWG also recommends that consumers avoid oxybenzone because it can cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones. For now, experts recommend that children and pregnant women steer clear.
Beware of companies that mention “natural” or “gentle” or”nurtures” on the box — that doesn’t mean a product is actually natural or safe.
Anything starting with oxy — no! Zinc oxide — yes!
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My 4 Favorite Safe Sunscreen Products
Keys Solar Rx: I wear this every day under my makeup. It’s also a great sunscreen for pets but not enough for the beach or sports. It is not water resistant.
This is not on the EWG list anymore, but I started using it years ago because EWG gave it a rating of 1, and it works great under makeup. This is hard to find, and I load up when I can find it stocked on Amazon.
Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion and Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection: our everyday sunscreens for the body (rated as 2).
They are the only zinc oxide sunscreen I’ve found readily available at Target, CVS, and other retailers. If you can’t afford expensive sunscreens, these are good choices. Look for Banana Boat coupons in your paper.
Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Face Stick, SPF 50: this got a EWG rating of 2.
It’s a great little beach and sports sunscreen stick, and I have an extra one of these in the car so I can reapply sunscreen to L’s face, ears, arms and legs when needed.
Even better are BabyGanics Cover-Up Baby Pure Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50 and All Terrain KidSport Face Stick, SPF 28 with a rating of 1, but both are harder to find.
Sunscreen enters our skin, so it’s crucial to buy high-quality products that are safe. The safer sunscreens are often not easily available in stores, so it’s worth it to find and buy them online.
Tips For Buying Safe Sunscreens for Your Family
1: Buy sunscreen with only zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient and apply according to the instructions. Reapply every hour or two, especially if you are near water or swimming! Zinc and titanium are non-toxic minerals that sit on top of skin instead of going into it, providing safer sunscreening.
2: Before you buy another tube of sunscreen, do your research and check out the least-toxic sunscreens from the EWG list for beach and sports sunscreens or moisturizers with SPF. They update their sunscreen guide every year.
3: Check out this EWG list of sunscreens you should avoid:
- No Spray Sunscreens
- No Super-High SPFs
- No Oxybenzone
- No Loose Powder Sunscreens
4: Avoid retinyl palmitate, a known human reproductive toxicant. Studies have suggested a possible skin cancer link in high doses.
5: It’s always a good idea to buy sunscreen products made for babies or kids or sensitive skin — they usually have less toxic ingredients.
6: Don’t buy sunscreen over SPF 50 – they don’t work better and make you think you don’t have to reapply as often – which leads to sunburns we want to avoid!
If we can’t rely on skincare companies being honest or the FDA protecting us by having tougher guidelines about toxic ingredients, it’s up to us to educate ourselves.
EWG is my favorite resources for up-to-date, reliable information about making informed, healthy choices for my family.
Wishing you a fun and safe summer in the sun! And remember: you should wear sunscreen all year — the sun can do damage even in the winter or behind the clouds or though car windows.
Have you ever noticed that you have more sunspots on your left side of your face or arm from the extra exposure it gets when you are driving a car? I certainly have.