Safe Sunscreen Guide For Children

Please note: In May 2010 the EWG strengthened their safe sunscreen requirements so the top list has now changed in the EWG sunscreen database. To read more on these new recommendations, please read the latest Mommy Footprint article called EWG Sunscreen Guide & Surprising Truths Parents Need To Read.

With the hot months of summer approaching, I need to replenish my stock of sunscreen for the kids. But like all products related to children these days, I’ve had to research this process, as there’s a growing concern about some ingredients within sunscreens, even brands for children. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) was the best resource for finding brand recommendations and ingredients to avoid. Especially concerning is this quote from EWG:

Our comprehensive scientific review indicates that 86% of 1,070 sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns. Only 14% of the products on the market are both safe and effective, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation.” 

The information about many products lacking UVA protection freaks me out.  I’ve always felt proud that none of my kids have had a sunburn, but just because their outer skin has been protected, doesn’t mean the deeper layers are protected if UVA protection isn’t present in the lotion.  Did you know the FDA does not require sunscreens to guard against UVA radiation?  You can’t believe the marketing claims by sunscreen companies.  Especially with kids, you need to research a really good product and the EWG has made it pretty easy by rating and listing 155 products that offer good sun protection with ingredients that won’t cause health risks.  Click here to access this list.

Ingredients make up UV-protective properties of sunscreen. The EWG site has a list of active ingredients, rated from 0-10 (zero or 1 being the best) for health hazard, and a helpful description of these ingredients. I learned that the ingredient Oxybenzone (Benzophenone -3) is rated an 8 (high hazard rating) for heath hazard and after checking the sunscreen label I’ve used on my boys for 4 years, it’s one of the ingredients!  Yikes!

Here are a few of the top rated products from EWG with their formulation year:

California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+ (2007)
Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30 (2007)
California Baby Sunblock Stick Everyday/year-Round, SPF 30+ (2007)
Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30 (2005)
Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+ (2008)
ColoreScience Sunforgettable Rock and Roller Ball, SPF 30 (2006)

….click here to view more entries.

I haven’t heard of any of these sunscreens…looks like the smaller companies are more ‘health hazard’ and ‘sun hazard’ aware.  The above sunscreens rated 0 (best score possible) on sun hazard meaning strong UVA and UVB protection. Their health hazard scores were also amazing.  Also, from this page of the EWG site, there is a category called Find Your Sunscreen. Type your family’s current sunscreen brand into the last search box. My brand is Banana Boat Kids SPF 50 which rated a 3 overall. Guess I don’t have to feel too bad…I’m not surprised that it’s health hazard score was a 5 because of that bad ingredient it contains, but I’m kinda surprised that the sun hazard score is 2. I think anything marketed for kids should rate a 0, meaning the UVA and UVB protection is complete.

So remember:

All sunscreens protect against UVB rays, but not all protect against UVA.  Having a high SPF value is great with indicating protection against UVB rays, but doesn’t indicate any protection against UVA rays.  Educate yourself on sunscreen brands that block both types of radiation.

Infants under 6 months old do not have the skin requirements to process the sun and thererfore do not need sunscreen.  They should be kept well guarded and out of the sun’s harmful rays.

Don’t believe what you read in the marketing of sunscreen.  Don’t believe that just one application will last all day.  Remember to re-apply often and generously with kids, especially after being in water.

Limiting time spent in the sun and protective sun clothing is equally important to sunscreen.


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5 Responses to Safe Sunscreen Guide For Children

  1. Tania Beltrano July 14, 2008 at 8:11 am #

    Hi, I just came across another product that might be safe and is worth checking out.

    California Baby Everyday/Year-Round SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion

  2. suzanne July 17, 2008 at 12:17 am #

    Awesome find Tania! I think that everything coming out of California Baby is good stuff. I’d love to get my hands on their bug repellent. I’ll be taking a trip over the border soon.. the US has access to so many more of the safer products for kids!

  3. Biljana July 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Thank you for posting the above information. The ewg web site and sunblock rating list are extremely helpful and well worth spending a few hours on. I started going through the list of products and at the same time calling my local vitamin stores that might carry organic sunscreens. I found two products that I would use, Badgers and Soleo although Soleo is $10 more for the same amount. It is unfortunate that more of these good products are not widely available.
    I will also be throwing away a lot of sunblocks that I have purchased that have a high health hazard.
    Thanks again,

  4. Melissa April 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    Hi there,

    I just went onto their site and noticed that they do ship to Canada. Thank you so much for this helpful post (even though my comment is a year late). I was having a hard time trying to figure out what was best for my daughter.
    Of course concerning the shipping I have no idea how much customs will ding us for…

    But I’ll have to see if I can hit Target in the States some time soon, otherwise I’ll bite the bullet and buy it through their site.

    Again thanks!

  5. suzanne April 23, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Hi Melissa! Badger sunscreen has just removed all nono technology from their sunscreen making their products equal to California Baby in my opinion. You can find it anywhere in Canada, but if you need an online store – check Nayla Natural Care: or Saffron Rouge: Yippee! Canadians are no longer left out of the process of finding organic solutions for sun care!

    Mommy Footprint

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