OK, for starters let’s admit I’m someone obsessed with sun protection. Perhaps it’s a genetic or cultural thing—after all, I am part Japanese (picture umbrellas on sunny days)—or maybe it’s just vanity. I tanned incredibly easily and frequently as a teenager and would get so dark I am unrecognizable in old pictures. Now due to a fear of cancer and premature aging, I lube up the kids before they step foot outside, and for more than a decade I’ve worn SPF 30 on my face every day, rain or sun.
But as you know, finding a safe and effective sunscreen can be a daunting task. Last year, after an extensive review of more than 1,700 sunscreens, the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) determined that 85 percent of sunscreens on the market either inadequately protect against damaging ultraviolet rays and/or contain ingredients that are known or suspected to be toxic.
Below are my top picks for natural sunscreen products for kids based on personal experience as well as the detailed reviews of the EWG.
1. Badger Sunscreen SPF 30+ ($14 for 2.9 oz tube)
This non-nano* zinc oxide cream is my top pick because EWG gives it a very high rating, the price is good and it really protects. The consistency is thick and it does have a high “casper” factor (white cast), but most of it absorbs in, and quite frankly, I’m not concerned about the beauty factor with my kids.
2. Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30 ($32)
This nano-zinc oxide product protects well, leaves no white cast—because it has nano particles*–and comes in an easy to use “stick” form (similar to a deodorant stick). However, it’s a tad pricey.
3. Soleo Organics Sunscreen SPF 30+ ($17 for 2.6 oz)
I really liked this non-nano zinc oxide product. It has no casper effect and moisturizes well. That said, the company is relatively new and may have some quality control issues because the user reviews on Amazon are terrible (although it ranks high with the EWG). Another drawback, it seems as though the tube doesn’t last more than a few weeks during peak summer usage.
4. UV Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+ ($34 for 5.3 oz)
I haven’t used this nano-zinc oxide product for a year, but I thought it protected well and again, there is no casper effect because it uses nano technology. It was a tad greasy, but also moisturized well so I didn’t mind.
(Please note: All prices are approximate and may vary slightly by retailer.)
Several people encouraged me to include California Baby Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance SPF 30+. I know many parents who love this product. However, I haven’t used it on my children for several years because it relies on titanium dioxide, which according to the EWG doesn’t provide full protection from UVA rays.
There are three more products I have yet to try, but I will do a follow-up to this article as soon as I do. All three are in the EWG’s top 10 from their 2009 study. They include:
- Heiko 40 SPF Kids ($36 for 6.7 oz)
- Loving Naturals SPF 30+ ($19.95 for 4 oz)
- Thinkbaby Sunscreen SPF 30+ ($16.90 for 4 oz)
If you have tried one of these three products, I would love to share your feedback with others.
Now go out and soak up the sun!
*Nano technology is controversial, and from what I understand, the jury is still out on whether we should fear them. Stay tuned for a separate article capturing the latest information and opinions. For now, I’m paranoid enough that I use only non-nano formulations on myself and my children.