One of my least favorite things about parenting is applying sunscreen to my small children. The kids despise it. They squirm. They scowl. They walk away. It takes parental persistence and fortitude to apply sunscreen-- and then, 2 hours later (or sooner if you have a fair skinned kid like I do) to dry them off, and reapply.
1. Avoid the ingredient Oxybenzone. It is linked to cancer, acts as an endocrine (hormone) disrupter, and makes chemicals more absorbable in the skin. Yuck!
2. Avoid the ingredient retinyl palminate which is ironically linked to skin cancer in animal tests! Take note: sometimes retinyl palminate is listed as vitamin A or “retinol.”
3. Find safer products. Use the Environmental Working Group's safer sunscreen guide (updated every year!) and Safe Mama's Sunscreen Cheat Sheet as a resource for finding brands that use safer ingredients and still protect your kids from the sun.
4. Use a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 and a maximum of SPF 50, higher doesn’t do anything more and causes more chemical exposure!
6. Don't use spray sunscreens, they are unsafe because of risks of inhaling the particles from the sunscreen.
7. Remember these sunscreen-free ways of avoiding a sun burn!
- Have kids play in morning and later in afternoon (with non-toxic sunscreen!) when rays aren’t so bright.
- Bring a beach tent. Find shade.
- Hats and sunglasses-- even for toddlers and small kids.
- Have kids wear swim shirts.
- Avoid the sun when it is at its strongest-- from 10-4pm if possible.