Sunrise this morning was 5:53 am. Sunset tonight is at 8:49 pm.
That’s nearly 15 hours of sun … it’s a long day. And as we head into summer the days are going to get even longer.
And as of this moment, there’s nary a cloud in the sky.
It’s supposed to be 75 degrees today.
And considering half of our year involves freezing temperatures, we are all itching to be outside!
It makes us feel so lucky to live in the Big Sky State…. if only it didn’t get us obsessing about finding a perfect balance between enjoying the abundant vitamin D without getting a sunburn!
And if you’re anything like us …. you think about sunscreen. You want it to be easy (that multi-pack of Coppertone Water Babies at Costco looks so convenient, right?).
But then you learn that Water Babies SPF 50 is actually really bad for little babies. It’s filled with chemicals (like oxybenzone, avobenzone, triethanolamine, benzyl alcohol, parabans and fragrance … to name just a few!) that are linked to reproductive toxicity, cancer, allergies, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity and can cause biochemical or cellular level changes. And to top it off, there are chemicals in it that cause enhanced skin absorption and are known for their bioaccumulation tendencies.
And then maybe you read that any sunscreen blocks absorption of Vitamin D. And isn’t that one of the benefits we’re looking for when we’re outside playing?
So what do you do?
What’s important in a sunscreen?
Is it UVB protection?
What’s the best SPF?
What chemicals should you avoid?
Do you make you own sunscreen?
What about not wearing sunscreen?
AAAAAAaaaaaahhhh! (Sometimes it feels like my brain might explode).
We’re not here to tell you what choices you should make for you and your loved ones. But we’ll tell you what informs our decisions, and how we ended up where we are.
Firstly, we don’t wear sunscreen all the time (even though we’re pretty fair-skinned). We tend to avoid the midday sun, wear hats and play in areas with a good amount of shade, and (knock on wood) we’ve been pretty lucky these past four years. That is NOT to say that we never wear sunscreen. Jeanne’s mom lives in the desert. Abby’s parents are in Texas. When we visit our parents, the kiddos are loaded up with sunscreen because … well … it’s a different level of sun exposure. There’s very little shade. A lot of pool time. And no one thinks a sunburn in a good idea (sunburn in childhood doubles your chances of getting melanoma as an adult).
But there are nearly 2,000 kinds of sunscreen on the market these days!!!
All we really want is to find one that actually works and isn’t going to threaten the well-being of our littles. So we look for sunscreens with an SPF of 30 (anything more isn’t really much more effective), sunscreens with a good UVB/UVA balance, sunscreens that are made with as many natural ingredients as possible (like coconut oil, olive oil, chamomile oil, cacao, shea butter, etc). And we look for a low rating on EWG’s sunscreen consumer guide. We also look for sunscreen that’s readily available at a local store.
So we’ve ended up with two commercial sunscreens that we recommend:
Badger Baby Sunscreen, Chamomile 7 Calendula, SPF 30 (available at our local Food Coop or HERE in our Amazon store)
California Baby Super Sensitive No Fragrance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+ (available at our local Target or HERE in our Amazon store.).
And yes… these options are double, sometimes triple, the cost of “regular” sunscreen, but we see it as an investment in their long term health!
And we’ve been lucky that we haven’t had any real sunburn experiences because our kiddos like wearing hats and don’t mind that we don’t spend a lot of time outside in the midday sun.
And of course… a heathy diet. I (Abby) remember hearing the phrase “eat your sunscreen” years ago, and have been intrigued ever sense. The point is that sunburn is actually inflammation of the skin, and eating a proper diet can help avoid that inflammation. Eating leafy greens, upping our intake of FCLO (found HERE) and continue taking Astaxanthin (found HERE) help the body better process the sun.
And if you can handle the oily feel, coconut oil also has a natural SPF of about 4 so using that as a lotion in the summer time is another great precaution!