At Jack’s four month well-check his primary pediatrician (love him) was going through a few general reminders and said, “If he has to be in the sun, I’d rather him have sunscreen on than get burned.” That’s all he said about it, but I obsessed over it for a few hours. He said it in a way that implied sunscreen was the lesser of two evils and that bothered me. I definitely understand not letting baby get a burn- I keep Jack out of the sun as much as possible, but what was so bad about sunscreen? Well, a lot I soon found out.
Here are a few chemicals to avoid when choosing a sunscreen:
Oxybenzone: This is one of the most toxic ingredients commonly found in sunscreens. Oxybenzone’s job is to absorb ultraviolet rays, but it is doing more than that- studies have shown this chemical can disrupt hormone production by messing with sperm production in animals, and also acting as estrogen in the body. On top of that, studies have shown that 1-9% of it gets absorbed into your skin, and the REALLY scary part.. this chemical shows up in breastmilk after the mother has been wearing sunscreen containing oxybenzone.
Octinoxate: This chemical is found in a lot of sunscreens because it absorbs and filters UV-B rays. One good thing is less of this chemical is absorbed into the skin than oxybenzone, but it is still found in breastmilk after the mother has been wearing sunscreen containing it. Also similar to oxybenzone, octinoxate messes with hormones- it should be avoided by pregnant women because it can act as estrogen once it is absorbed into the skin. This chemical has also been shown to create behavioral and thyroid issues in animals.
Homosalate: Finally, stay away from homosalate, another chemical used to filter UV rays. While this one is slightly less toxic than the previous two chemicals, it can still be absorbed into the skin and show up in breastmilk, and it can disrupt estrogen, androgen, and progesterone hormones.
So, what should you chose? Well, there are actually a lot of great options out there. After my pediatrician’s warning I started looking at different sunscreens for baby, but even brands I usually trusted had too many ingredients for me to feel comfortable. After weeks of reading ingredients every time we went to a store, I stumbled upon Badger, a really great natural and organic sunscreen line. Badger has different sunscreens for baby, everyday use, active, and sport and none of them contain chemical active sunscreening agents (like the three bad chemicals I listed above.) My favorite thing about the baby sunscreen is the ridiculously short ingredient list that includes things like organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax, organic calendula, and most importantly- zinc oxide, this is what protects baby from the sun. We’ve been using this on Jack for a few months whenever we go to the beach and I love how safe and effective it is. You can buy Badger sunscreen here. (affiliate link)
EWG’s Sunscreen Guide is a really great resource. There is a really simple search to find your sunscreen you are currently using, or thinking about getting and it is rated based on a few different factors: UVB protection, UVA protection, UVB/UVA balance, sunscreen stability, and health concern. They use a rating system of 0-10, 0 being low hazard and 10 being high hazard. Each sunscreen gets an overall score 0-10, but then the website also breaks down the different ingredients and rates those in terms of low or high hazard. It is really easy to understand and there is so much great information on the site. A news segment on sun safety led me to this site and I ended up throwing out all the sunscreen I had in my house due to poor scores. Now whenever I am thinking of buying a new sunscreen for me or baby, I always look it up here first. Badger’s baby sunscreen is rated 1, very low hazard.
I think my pediatrician is right, sunscreen is better than sun damage, but it is important to make sure it is a really great sunscreen with no nasty chemicals. It is getting really warm out here in Southern California. We hit 90* the other day and this whole week is high seventies to eighties. Jimmy and I are planning to take Jack to the beach this weekend and he is definitely going to be covered in Badger. Is it warming up where you live?