Green Parenting: Safe Sunscreen

It’s getting hotter and the days are getting longer and that could mean just one thing- summertime is almost here! As we begin to spend our days basking in the warmer weather and spending more time outdoors, we also know it’s time for us to stock up on sunscreen. I first became aware of the differences in good and bad sunscreen last year when the EWG (Environmental Working Group) published its safe sunscreen list.

The 2012 Guide to Safer Sunscreens list was just published this week is an incredibly helpful ranking of most major sunscreens on the market (there’s also a FREE iPhone app). While there have been some disappointment in past studies, overall the list is a good place to start when looking for safer sunscreens to use on your family.

Here are also some important tips for buying safer sunscreen, applying them correctly as well as being wary of claims made on sunscreen packaging and bottles:

 – Stick to SPF 15 – 50; the FDA has proven that anything higher than SPF 50 is useless and only encourages you to stay in the sun longer (with a false sense of security) and be more prone to burn.

– Slather on the sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going in the sun. NO sunscreen application is instant no matter what the bottle claims.

– Infants under six months old shouldn’t be in the sun and you should consult your doctor before applying sunscreen on them.

– Encourage your men to apply sunscreen too! Apparently only 34% of men wear sunscreen while 78% of women do.

– Europe makes better sunscreen because they have tougher standards. The FDA just isn’t up to speed on their labeling rules for sunscreens and they just granted another six month grace period before companies have to comply with sub-par labeling and ingredient rules.

Sun safety is no joke and if you are going to go out in the sun, make sure you know what your sunscreen is doing (or not doing) for you. For more information on the EWG’s study and the list of sunscreens, visit their 2012 Skin Deep website.

Green Parenting is published every Friday.
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