Sun is out and summer is right around the corner. And for most (hopefully all of us) that means lots of sunscreen. To get personal for a moment, in 2002 I was given a melanoma diagnosis. I am grateful I was able to get a clear diagnosis after multiple excisions and didn’t need to do any further treatment. I do have a good size scar on my back as a constant reminder though.
Not everyone is that lucky. The lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 1 in 40 for whites, 1 in 1,000 for blacks, and 1 in 200 for Hispanics.
It got me thinking, we haven’t talked sunscreen here yet. While the concept of to use or not to use is an important one, just as important is what kind to use. Today I will share five things to think about when selecting a sunscreen, resources for you to find the right brand + our family’s favorite!
I often consult the Environmental Working Group (EWG) when I am looking into product safety. EWG is a “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. Their mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.” Much of what is my same mission! They are research backed and have a ton of great educational resources on beauty products, cleaning products, water, food, healthy home living and of course sunscreen.
Each year they update their Guide To Sunscreens. You can search your sunscreen brand and get a safety rating (1-10). If you don’t want to search by sunscreen name, they also have a list of the Best Kids Sunscreens and Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens.
Five things to consider when selecting your sunscreen:
- Probably best to avoid the ingredient oxybenzone, which is found in more than 40 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens EWG tested. Additional data is needed but existing tests raise health concerns.
- SPF higher than 50 is not necessarily best. According to the FDA, higher sun protection factor values, or SPF, have not been shown to provide additional clinical benefit and may provide users with a false sense of security.
- Avoid spray sunscreens. EWG is concerned that sunscreen sprays pose an inhalation risk and may not provide an adequate coating on the skin to ensure proper protection. FDA proposes that all spray and powdered sunscreens be tested to ensure they cannot be inhaled deep into the lungs, where they could do irrevocable damage.
- Mineral sunscreens seem to be the safest.
- Check the EWG database when selecting your sunscreen.
I try to test a few new brands every year but our consistent go to is Think Baby, which rates a 2. And yes, even though it says ‘baby’ we all use it. They have two other bottles: Thinksport Kids Safe and Thinksport Safe but the company has informed me they are the exact same formulation, the others were developed because kids didn’t want to use sunscreen with the name baby in it :).
Our other favorite is from BeautyCounter. Their lotion ranks significantly lower – a 2, whereas their spray is a 6. Their spray is better than other sprays (IMO) but I do think the inhalation risk is what rates this a bit higher. (And this is higher than it ranked last year which was interesting).
Overall, shade is best. Find an umbrella. Also wearing hats and sunglasses are important to help protect those difficult areas.
To read more about sunscreen safety, you can do that here.