June 10, 2007
the scoop on sunscreen
I did a bit of research on sunscreens this weekend so that I will be prepared for our next summer outing. Thanks to Suzanne who sent me a great resource to kick start my search: BeautyTruth.net This site is a fantastic overview of beauty/body products, including what to be concerned about and aware of. The author, Rose-Marie Swift, summarizes the dangers of various products and the importance of reading the ingredient lists. It is very compelling information and worth a read.
For sunscreen she advises to avoid the following:
diethylphthaltate (which may cause liver and kidney damage and reduce fertility)
Octyl-Dimethyl-Para-Amino-Benzoic Acid (OD-PABA)
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
The first thing I checked was the labels on all the tubes of sunscreen we have in the house. I suspected the standard drugstore variety would be prone to cheaper chemicals, but I was surprised to see some of the products which I had bought at a natural foods store contained these "no-no" ingredients as well.
One of my former favorites (as of yesterday) had been Alba Sun Kids sunscreen. I see now that it contains Oxybenzone, Homosalate, and parabens. Oops!
I was getting a little overwhelmed and wondered if perhaps the list of "bad" ingredients was too vigilant. I wondered it I was just making myself crazy for nothing.
I looked up a popular baby sunscreen on the Skin Deep website just for the sake of comparison. Coppertone Water Babies got a pretty bad rating (8 out of 10, with 0 being the safest). The rating was due to ingredients linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergens, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), enhanced skin absorption, contamination concerns, occupational hazards, and biochemical or cellular level changes. Yikes! Maybe there is something to what the Beauty Truth message.
I decided to look online for some products that might be safer. I figured I could research online and go to my local Whole Foods to see them in person.
There were two products I was interested in, but the store did not carry them. I would still like to learn more about Aubrey's Natural Sun SPF 25 Green Tea Protective Sunscreen. It has a good rating on the Skin Deep website (a 2), despite containing Padimate O.
I also would like to see an ingredient list for Super Goop, which sounds interesting. It is not in the Skin Deep database, so I have no idea what is in the product exactly.When I learn more about these products I will be sure to post the info.
While at the store I ended up buying two others to try. One is the California Baby SPF 30 (non-chemical sunscreen) Even the label says: contains no parabens, sodium benzonate, benzoic acid, benzyl alcohol, or phenoxyethanol. This product gets an excellent rating at the Skin Deep website, a 1 out of 10 (zero being best).
I also bought Alba Botanica Kids Mineral Sunscreen SPF 18. (This is a mineral based formulation from the brand I liked previously). The main ingredient is titanium dioxide, like the California Baby product. However, I see it contains benezyl alcohol, so I wonder about that. But, it is almost $10 cheaper!
I used to use the California Baby on my first child when he was an infant. I think I stopped because it goes on kind of white and thick. After trying the Alba mineral sunscreen it seems to me that perhaps all the titanium products do have kind of a white, ghostly cast to them. Not the end of the world, but kind of unfortunate.
Now that I am convinced it is important to find a safe sunscreen product I am still unsure which one to use. I am not a chemist so it is hard for me to know if I had to pick between 2 ingredients that were questionable (such as padimate O and benzyl alcohol), which would be worse.
These little tubes are expensive, too! I don't think I can keep everyone inside all summer so I guess I'll have to use something. Do you have a favorite? Let me know!