SafeMama Safer Sunscreen Cheat Sheet

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sunscreen2013SafeMama™ Sunscreen Criteria: All sunscreens I approved needed to be free of Parabens, Phthalates, PEG’s (polyethylene glycols), Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, SLS/SLES, and a bevy of other chemicals I won’t bother listing but basically, they should contain a considerable amount of natural ingredients.  The sunscreen ingredient I mainly recommend avoiding is the synthetic chemical oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor which can affect the nervous system, has been linked to cancer in some laboratory studies, and creates free-radicals when exposed to the sun which are harmful. Below are our selections of safer natural sunscreens that use mineral (or sometimes referred to a physical) sunscreen which is typically Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide or any combination of those two. I prefer Zinc Oxide over Titanium Dioxide but I have a few on here that contain both (I’ve grouped them accordingly).  There have been some studies done that could classify Titanium Dioxide as carcinogenic to humans.  They are preliminary studies but the evidence so far is showing that rats exposed to an inhalation of the powdered form of Titanium Dioxide developed respiratory tract cancer.  That said, there have been no conclusive tests showing that topical use causes the same reaction – so here is where you get to make your own judgement call and I just outline your options!

Micronized vs Nano: There have been many reports that micronized vs. nano particles of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide have the ability to pass through the skin more easily (which is why they aren’t as white as others). There is also a concern that nano titanium dioxide/zinc oxide particles have higher photo-reactivity than coarser particles and may generate free radicals that can cause cell damage. Some manufacturers have addressed this issue by coating the particles to prevent free radical formation.  I am comfortable recommending sunscreens with Micronized zinc or titanium (most natural sunscreens ARE). NANO zinc or titanium is something I feel should be avoided and I have not included any sunscreens using nano particles in my list. In most cases I have confirmed with the company that the particle sizes are larger than 100nm.

Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate): Years ago the EWG put out their 2010 Sunscreen Guide and with it they made public some information regarding retinyl palmitate and its use in sunscreen. A study done by the FDA revealed it may speed the growth of skin lesions and tumors in lab mice.  The study is still in a controversial stage at this point so but its easy to avoid so I have not included any sunscreens containing retinyl patmitate. Most companies have eliminated it.

Broad Spectrum: Some sunscreens do not protect you against both UVA and UVB rays.  UVB rays are the ones responsible for making you turn pink or red in the sun, also known as sunburn.  UVA rays are the nasty ones responsible for getting down into the underlying layers of skin causing wrinkling, aging, and in some cases skin cancer.  Choose a sunscreen that protects from both UVB and UVA (also referred to as “broad spectrum”.  Lucky for us greenies, the primary ingredients in natural sunscreens, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide both provide broad spectrum protection. (Read more about it:  The FDA changed the law and this year sunscreens will be required to label their products as broad spectrum or place a warning label.  Make sure you look for the Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB wording on labels.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: I include these in each listing as a convenience to you. Truth be told I don’t put a lot of weight in the rating to make my choices on products but it’s a beginnners gauge if you can’t decipher ingredients lists. I do not agree with all the EWG top recommended choices.  Some of them contain hormone mimicking ingredients I think should be avoided.  However, if your top concern is UVA/UVB protection vs ingredients than their reports can be of much use to you.  I am confident that natural sunscreens provide more than adequate protection and are a safer choice overall.

Sunscreen Lotions & Sprays with Zinc Oxide (only)

Badger All Natural Sunscreens

Badger Sunscreens Protection: SPF 30+
Active Ingredient: Non-nano, uncoated Zinc Oxide 18.75%

SafeMama Rating: 4 Stars
Skin Deep Rating SPF 30: 1 (last updated 10/2012)

Price / Where to Buy: $16.00 / or (use code Safe10 for 10% off)
Notes: Award Winner 2013 – Best Overall Sunscreens. SafeMama Award Winner for the last 3 years. Badger is always at the top of my lists because they really take the time to make safe products with incredible ingredients. This year is no exception.  I know, not everyone likes the Badger Sunscreens due to it being white, or too thick.  But you have options now.  Badger came out with several new formulas this season to cater to the rising needs for safe sunscreen for not just swimming but every day.  They seem to have mastered making their sunscreens less white on the skin without compromising the safety (still safe non-nano sized particles).  No longer does “clear” mean “nano”.  They have now created Active sunscreens which are thicker and stay on for swimming, but the “sticky” feeling has been greatly reduced.  I love the Badger Active SPF 30 for Kids in the Tangerine & Vanilla Scent.  They have also created some Daily sunscreens.  I’ll review these more in-depth but they have non-greasy non-whitening safe sunscreens that are perfect for daily wear, even under make up.  They’ve even done a Baby Daily formula and a Kids Daily formula. I’ve had great results using these on myself for daily and sports, as well as on my kids.  No burns and no sticky messes, all the formulas still use non-nano uncoated zinc as the main sunscreen element.  Badger gets the Best Overall Sunscreen Award for 2013 for the results, the diversity of options and performance.  Thumbs up for Badger as always.

ECO FORMULA SPF 30+ by Raw Elements

Protection: SPF 30+
Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 23%

SafeMama Rating: 4 Stars
Skin Deep Rating SPF 30: 1 (last updated 10/2012)

Price / Where to Buy: $19.00 /Good Things Green Things
Notes: SafeMama Award Winner: Best Ingredients 2013 I really like this sunscreen and hadn’t had much of a chance to enjoy it until now.  It has a thicker consistency but spreads very easily and the whiteness factor is minimum, but there.  This is great for swimming, heavy sweating, or water play and the ingredients are as good as it gets: Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Green Tea, Organic Black Tea, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, All Natural Mango Butter, Organic Beeswax, All Natural Rosemary Oil Extract, All Natural Vitamin E.  That’s it.

Poofy  Supernaturals* “The” Sunscreen SPF 30

IMG_4289 Protection: SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Non-nano, 22.5% Zinc Oxide

SafeMama Rating: 4 Stars
Skin Deep Rating 1 (last updated 10/2012)

Price / Where to Buy: $14.00 /
Notes: This sunscreen should really tie with Raw Elements for Best Ingredients Award.  I just found this sunscreen last year and the ingredients list blew me away.  Lori from Groovy Green Livin’  did a review (she introduced me to it) and here are some of her thoughts on the products performance: “I liked the way it smelled: a light sunscreen fragrance. I also liked the way it spread-it felt as though it was ready to do its job protecting us from the suns harsh rays.  Just as FYI-it does leave a white film after being spread (just means great coverage!).” –Lori, Groovy Green Livin’ I tested this out out last year… has a similar consistency as the Sport Badger Balm sunscreens.  Would be ideal for swimming and heavy sweating and does protect well if reapplied accordingly. The ingredients list is tremendously safe! Love it.

Loving Naturals Clear Sunscreens

Protection: SPF 30+
Active Ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide 24.8% (Baby Sunscreen uses Uncoated zinc)

SafeMama Rating: 4 Stars

Skin Deep Rating: 1 (last updated 10/2012)
Price / Where to buy: $9.99 – $25 /
Last year’s winner of Best Overall Sunscreen 2012. This brand is always a safe choice. All natural ingredients (really) and no red flags I can see.  What’s great about this line is the performance.  It still feels like a natural sunscreen but it blends well and its CLEAR.  I kid you not.  So no more whitish purpley looking kids.  I’ve tested it out on myself and my kids and it’s worked great so far.   There is no strong scent, no thick greasy feeling and you can’t tell it’s on.  Loving Naturals has Baby Sunscreen, and their Clear Body and Clear Face sunscreen but all are safe for use on babies 6 months and up.  The price point is a bit higher but great products. I don’t see a change in the ingredients from last year, same formula, same great product.

Green Beaver Certified Organic SPF 30 Kids Lotion & Spray (SPF 27)

Protection: SPF 32 (Spray is SPF 27)
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 21% (Spray is 24%)
Skin Deep Rating: N/A

Price / Where to Buy: $21.99 /
Notes: I have known about Green Beaver for a while and have reviewed their natural toothpastes in the past.  I’m listing the kids versions but from looking over the whole line they all pass my requirements.  Not 100% chemical free but free of the major red flags and uses non-nano uncoated zinc. You’ll all be pleased to know it comes in a spray version too.  I have not tried these yet – it’s a Canadian brand which will make the Canadian readers happy! I have not tested this one but I have read that it’s not greasy or white.  That remains to be seen!

Elemental Herbs Kids Sunscreen

Protection: Kids SPF 30
Active Ingredient: 22.5% non-nano Zinc Oxide
Skin Deep Rating: Kids SPF 30: 1
Price: $12.99 – $15.99 / or

Ingredient Perks: Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Vegan

Ingredient Cons: Sodium Benzoate but a very tiny amount (in a blend with less than 1%)

Notes: Comes in 1 and 3 ounce sizes and in a SPORT and a KIDS version.   Has an all natural ingredients list you can actually read and understand.  They have made a few adjustments from years past and the SPF is now the full SPF 30 that you want in a sunscreen.  This goes on nicely and while it does have a slight whiteness to it, it actually disappears after a little bit.  Doesn’t have a strong smell and works well in water play and sweaty activities.  This formula is Vegan and Gluten free and has worked really well on my kids.  I sent my son to school in it today for Field Day and he came home burn free after a few hours playing in the sun.

TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30

TruKid Protection: SPF 30+

Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 20%

SafeMama Rating: 3 Stars
Skin Deep Rating: 1 (last updated 10/2012)
Price: $17.49 /

Pros: Reformulated with improvements! Cons: Dimethicone (if that’s a concern for you)
Notes: TruKid brand is inching it’s way back into my good graces.  I had to remove their product from my cheat sheet two years ago and they have come out with some new formulas that I think make the cut.  I approve this  one wholeheartedly because of it’s more than respectable ingredients list.  They have several variations but the main one, that everyone loves (it smells like oranges) has a great new formula.  I think it’s a good pick overall. This one is great for everything including day to day.  They also carry SPORT TruKid which is more water resistant.  Also!  TruBaby Everyday Play SPF 30 is another one of their options.  It appears that they have changed all the formulas to be zinc oxide only and that’s great.  I really respect the efforts this company goes through to make their products safer.  Welcome back TruKid!

Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stuff

Protection: SPF 30
Active Ingredient: 20% micronized zinc oxide

SafeMama Rating: 3 Stars
Skin Deep Rating: SPF 30: 1 (last updated 10/2012 – still has old formula listed)
Price / Where to buy: $12.00 – $20.00 /  Purple Prairie

Pros: Mostly great ingredients list, effective and not chalky Cons: Polysorbate 60 – possible contamination risk

Notes: This was a top contender and a SafeMama award winner in previous years. I ordered some of this from Good Things Green Things last year and loved it.  I am told they have reformulated  but the new ingredients list is not on the website.  Apparently Polysorbate 60 has been added which can come with some possible contamination concerns.  The new formula probably works well but since my trusty source isn’t stocking it this year, I’ll wait and see what happens.  Good Things Green Things will still be stocking the solid sunscreen sticks and lip balms only.  Still a suitable alternative to mainstream sunscreens.

All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Spray

Protection: SPF 30+
Active Ingredient: Non-Nano, Un-coated Zinc Oxide Zinc Oxide: 19%
Skin Deep Rating: Their All Sport Spray SPF 30 rates a 3.  (Grapefruit seed extract makes this rate higher due to contamination concerns)
Price: $13.49

Pros: Spray!  Cons: Oily and uses dimethicone
Notes:  This is one of the few spray sunscreens on the market. I’ve known about this particular brand for sometime (I like their Bug Sprays – very effective).   They have several versions in a lotion which are great too however they do contain Dimethicone if that’s something you’d rather not see in your sunscreen. (It’s a lubrication chemical derived from silica). Their sprays however do not contain it.  I’ve used their KidSport SPF 30 with success and it works great.  The spray is a life saver!  It’s not “dry”  – can feel more on the oily side – but it does cover and work.  Just be sure to shake before each use.

Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm

Protection: SPF 15 (3rd party tests rated it an SPF 29.5)
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide

SafeMama Rating: 4 Stars
Skin Deep Rating: 2 (last updated 3/2011)
Price / Where to Buy: ~$28 /
Notes: Miessence has a great ingredients list packed with almost all Certified Organic ingredients. It goes on smooth, but thicker so it would definitely be water resistant. It has a grey tint rather than white so it’s not as obvious but it is stickier than some.  Not quite as sticky as Badger. Watery sunscreens always make me wonder if I’m just sweating them off. Has no strong smell and absorbs well. Used it while out walking the other day and no burnsI use this one often for myself but I’d be ok with it for use on kids too.  This is rated a 2 because of the oil blend because it’s “proprietary” but they only use safe essential oils.

Babyhampton Beach Bum Sunscreen

babyhamp Protection: SPF 30
Active Ingredient: non-nano Zinc Oxide 22.5%

SafeMama Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Skin Deep Rating N/A

Price / Where to buy: $20 /
Notes: A new brand on the cheat sheet, this comes from a mom in New York who wanted to create a safe sunscreen for her kids. Concerned about chemicals in sunscreens, she set out to make her own safer version.  Now she shares it with us!  This applies evenly like a lotion but stays on like a good sunscreen should without the greasy feel.  Through sweat and play, this is a nice option. It’s unscented and goes on clear so no white messes. GMO free, 75% Certified Organic, Vegan, the list goes on.  Preservatives are in a very small quantity and does contain Sodium Benzoate but I really like the performance and feel.  If a tiny amount doesn’t bother you than this is a great option.  Comes in a stick version as well.

BurnOut KIDS Physical Sunscreen

burnoutProtection: SPF 30

Active Ingredient:  non-nano Zinc Oxide 18.6%
Skin Deep Rating: 1 (6/2010 last updated)
Price / Where to Buy: $17.99 /

Notes: Due to popular demand, I’ve added BurnOut Sunscreens to the list this year.  I get so many requests for me to approve it and apparently it’s rated well on Amazon.  I’ve not tested this one out but the ingredients list doesn’t look too hairy and the zinc is non-nano.  I am going to request some samples and see if I can test it out for everyone. Looks promising. It’s not 100% natural – there are some stearates and processed ingredients but nothing too alarming.   Aqua (Deionized Water), Capric/Capryllic Triglycerides, Vegetable Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Sorbitol, Imperata Cylindrical (Root) Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbitan Stearate, Arabidopsis Extract, Plantago Lanceolata (Plantain) Leaf Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Plankton Extract, Xanthan Gum, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C).

eco logical skin care Sunscreen

Protection: SPF 30+ (Comes in Baby, Face and Body)
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 22%
Skin Deep Rating: 1 (10/2012)
Price / Where to Buy: $13.00 – $24.99 / Use Online Store Finder
Notes: This was a new brand on the market whos roots are from the makers of Soleo Organics.  They sought to make a new brand that was more competitively priced and still just as safe and effective.  They succeeded.  I have sampled their Baby and Face sunscreen and both are really great products. It isn’t natural nirvana when you read the ingredients list but it’s much safer than most sunscreens and rates phenomenal in Skin Deep at a 1. Goes on smooth, dries mostly clear (really you can barely tell you have it on) and it’s not as greasy as others.  This is a great sunscreen and it worked well for my sensitive skin as well as on my kids through rough sweaty play time. Thumbs up. This is a popular choice among my Greenie Friends!

ThinkBaby (ThinkSport) SPF 50+ Sunscreen for Kids

thinkbaby Protection: SPF 50+
Active Ingredient: non-nano Zinc Oxide 20%

Skin Deep Rating 1 (10/2012)

Price / Where to buy: $15.99 / Live Essential Safe Products
Notes: ThinkBaby came out with their sunscreen a few years ago in an effort to make the safest sunscreen possible. They use mostly natural ingredients and it has no harsh scent to it. Just good ingredients that protect really well. ThinkBabys sunscreen has also passed the Whole Foods Premium Care requirements. Leave it to ThinkBaby to come out with a safe product.  ThinkSport has changed the formula a couple times and I’ve not had the chance to test it.  My good friend Alicia from The Soft Landing loves this one!  The latest ingredients list looks fantastic.   This does rate REALLY well with EWG’s Skin Deep scores an “excellent” for UVA and SPF protection.

UV Natural Baby SPF 30+ Sunscreen

Protection: SPF 30+
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 24.8 %
Skin Deep Rating: 1 (last updated 2/2011)

Notes: Comes in several formulas and SPF levels including a Broad Spectrum Sport, SPF 15 and  SPF 30 Lip Balms.  Has very respectable ingredients lists.  Rates beautifully in Skin Deep with a 1. Reviews on are mixed but most natural sunscreens do get some mixed reviews since they are difficult to get used to compared to commercial brands.   People who suffer from Rosacea (including myself – I have it mildly) say this sunscreen is a good choice on sensitive skin such as theirs.  Comes in a Sport Sunscreen as well and all rate a 1 in EWG’s database as well as rate good/excellent in their protection scale.  The biggest problem with this sunscreen is the price.  I don’t care how good it is… $30 for 4 oz of sunscreen is ridiculous.  But the ingredients list is great so I see no issues with using it if you can afford it.

Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30

babo Protection: SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 22.5%
Skin Deep Rating: N/A

SafeMama Rating: 3 Stars

Pros: Clear! We love clear! Smells good too.  Cons: Sodium Benzoate

Price / Where to Buy: $19.95 /
Notes: I’ve always been a fan of this brand, they create really lovely products and focus on making them safe and effective. This new sunscreen from Babo Botanicals is pretty great!  It goes on totally clear, applies easily and really isn’t sticky.  It also smells like green apples!  No synthetic fragrances or dyes and it’s gluten free.  I’ve used this at the park on a sunny day with the kids and no burns.  Nice brand and nice product!  I particularly love their Clear Zinc Sport Stick for carrying around.

Kabana Skin Care Green Screen Organic Sunscreen

Protection: SPF 32
Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 25%
Skin Deep Rating: 1 (last updated 10/2012)
Price: $6.00  – $31.00 depending on size /

Pros: Organic and Non-GMO ingredients  Cons: Vegetable Emulsifying Wax (Polysorbate 60)

Notes: Made from “8 edible-grade organic and natural ingredients” and uses non-nano Zinc Oxide for protection. I tried a sample of this and I love that its mostly natural, but it makes you look pretty white and powdery looking. It dries on your skin in the chalky end of the spectrum rather than greasy. Does protect and isn’t greasy, but not my favorite.  I am not a huge fan of the use of Vegetable Emulsyfying Wax (polysorbate 60 – contamination concerns) in skin care products either which is one of the ingredients.  EWG rates the UVA/UVB protection on this one as “excellent” though which might make it a good choice for that reason.  It’s better, and rated well but not my first choice.

Erbaviva Natural Children’s Sunscreen (New formula)

Protection: SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide
Skin Deep Rating: N/A
Price / Where to buy: $22 /

Notes:  I have not tested the new formula for the SPF 30 with Zinc Oxide.  I wasn’t willing to spend the $22 to buy it and try it out.  I have tried getting in touch with them about the zinc and whether it’s non-nano and what the concentration is, but haven’t yet heard back (still).  I loved the old formula so hopefully this one is just as good.  The ingredients list still appears to be pretty clean.  Not totally chemical free in this latest formula though.

Sunscreen Lotions & Sprays with Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide

Donaturals DO Naturals (Dolphin Organics) Mineral Sunscreen

Protection: SPF 32 and SPF 50 (new!)
Active Ingredient: SPF 50 contains Zinc Oxide 23% and Titanium Dioxide 6% (non-nano)

SafeMama Rating: 4 Stars

Skin Deep Rating: 2

Price / Where to Buy: $21.49 /
Notes: I was already a fan of the whole Dolphin Organics bath care line so when I heard they were coming out with a sunscreen I was truly excited. Based on all natural ingredients and some organic ingredients, this sunscreen is a great one to start with if you’re trying out new products for baby.  It’s light and has a lotion texture (so no excessive rubbing to get it on their skin) but you do have to take a little time to rub it all in.  I like this sunscreen for playground days because it’s considerably less sticky than other brands.  No overpowering scent either which is nice. The SPF 50 that just came out has a similar texture, not sticky and no strong scents.  It does leave a bit of a white residue. This comes in an SPF 32 and now 50 as well.

True Natural Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Baby & Family

truenatural Protection: SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Titanium Dioxide (6.0%), Zinc Oxide (6.0%)
Skin Deep Rating: SPF 30: 1 (last updated 2/2011)
Price / Where to buy: $20  / Good Things Green Things
Notes:  Haven’t tried this yet but plan to – samples coming.  The ingredients list looks very respectable:  Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Aqua (Deionized Water),Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Camellia Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea) Extract, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Oil,Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sun”ower) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sun”ower) Wax, Lecithin, p-Anisic Acid, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin-E).  Description says this one is “water resistant” and based on the ingredients list it’s probably thicker in consistency.  Will review this one soon.

Goddess Garden SunnyKids & SunnyBaby Natural Sunscreen

GG-Kids Protection: SPF 30+
Active Ingredient: Baby Version  –  Zinc Oxide 20% only Kids version – Zinc Oxide 6.0% and Titanium Dioxide 6.0%
Titanium Dioxide . . 6.0% Sunscreen
Skin Deep Rating: Kids Sunscreen Rating: 2 / Baby Sunscreen Rating: 1

Pros: Goddess Garden has pump and continuous spray sunscreen available.  Baby sunscreen is zinc only.

Cons: All their formulas have Japanese Honeysuckle Extract in them now.
Price / Where to Buy: $14.99 – 21.99 /
Notes: This brand rated really well with EWG .  Has a great ingredients list, 70-80% organic, no icky ingredients.  They also have a variety of adult versions, Kids, Babies and a face sunscreen too. The Baby sunscreen rates the lowest in Skin Deep. I have been using a tube of their SPF 30 Kids sunscreen with good results.  The texture is more like a lotion rather than a thicker greasier sunscreen.  It tends to have a fibrous texture to it but does rub in and work well.  I used it for pool swimming and my son got a little red in the cheeks where he had rubbed it off.  I’d use this for non-water activities like playgrounds and outdoor events since it’s not sticky at all. I like this one for the grown ups too. I tend to use it on myself more often than the kids but it’s great for both.  I *just* received samples of this brand in the mail yesterday.  Will let you all know how I like it.

Goddess Garden SunnyBody Sunscreen Continuous Spray

GG-Spray Protection: SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 6%;  Titanium Dioxide 6.4%
Skin Deep Rating: N/A Yet

Pros: Organic ingredients.  Baby sunscreen is zinc only.

Cons: All their formulas have Japanese Honeysuckle Extract in them now.
Price / Where to Buy: ~ $19.00 (for an 6oz can) /
Notes: This brand rated really well with EWG .  Has a decent ingredients list, 70-80% organic. They also have a variety of adult versions, Kids, Babies and a face sunscreen too. The Baby sunscreen rates the lowest in Skin Deep. This is their newest product, a “continuous” spray can which I have yet to product test.  I am not a fan of spray sunscreens for the inhalation hazard it causes but I am willing to give it a go.  I should note that all the Goddess Garden sunscreens contain Japanese Honeysuckle Extract so if that’s something you avoid I feel like I should mention it.  I *just* received samples of this brand in the mail yesterday.  This sprays on exactly the way those commercial sprays do, but it sprayed out clear at first and then turned white after 9-10 sprays.  If you try this make sure there’s white lotion spraying out.

Coola Baby SPF 50 Unscented Moisturizer

Protection: SPF 50
Active Ingredient: Titanium Dioxide 7.6% & Zinc Oxide 6.8%
Skin Deep Rating1 (Last updated 10/2012)

Price / Where to buy: $36 /
Reviews: I tested this out last summer and had a great experience with it.  They have tweaked the formulas since last year (the SPF went up slightly) but I liked the coverage and it prevented late August sunburns at the pool with no problems.  It’s a thicker sunscreen which works great for swimming and water play but I ended up using it too and it didn’t feel too heavy.  Their zinc and titanium are both non-nano article sunscreens and there is no overpowering scent.  Overall, good sunscreen, rated well by EWG, etc.  My only nitpick is the price point.  Another high end (although high quality for having organic ingredients) sunscreen here.  I have a hard time spending almost 40 bucks on a 3 ounce tube of sunscreen.  But it’s safe and it works.  Not all the Coola products are chemical free sunscreens so read the ingredients before you buy.

Mexitan Sunscreen Lotions

Protection: Comes in SPF 15, SPF 30 and SPF 50
Active Ingredient: Non-Nano Titanium Oxide & Zinc Oxide
Skin Deep Rating: SPF 50: 1 (last updated 6/2010)
Price / Where to buy: $14.95 – $19.95 /
Notes: This brand has a great ingredients list overall and rates well in Skin Deep. It was under a little scrutiny two years ago when the vitamin A issue came up but they’ve since removed it from their formulas.  I ordered their SPF 50 to test outKathy says “This sunscreen is one of the higher SPF’s I’ve seen that aren’t chemical.  Though I don’t know that the protection is much greater than SPF 30 in most cases.  It has a great ingredients list.  It goes on pretty white and will appear chalky if not rubbed in fast.  I think due to the higher SPF it has this result. The SPF 30 might be better. It protected well at the beach.  No harsh scent.  Thumbs up.  I’m not head over heels but it’s effective and safe.”

Aubrey Organics Natural Sun SPF 30+ Unscented Sensitive Skin/Children

Protection: SPF 30+ (Comes in other variations)
Active Ingredient: Zinc oxide 12%, titanium dioxide 5.6% (Non-nano particle with particle size averaging 202nm)
Skin Deep Rating: 1 (last updated 4/2012)

Pros: Vegan and Gluten Free Cons: Couple of processed ingredients. 
Price / Where to Buy: $15.95 /
Notes: Aubrey Organics was off the 2010 list for a reason I can’t recall but it appears they have reformulated and repackaged with some new variations of their sunscreen using Zinc and Titanium Oxides.  I just stumbled on this out of curiosity so it’s on the list of “need to test out for performance” . Will edit to add when I have a chance to try this one…  Looks great though.  (Still have not received samples)  They have a nice array of sunscreens and the price point is manageable.  Thumbs up Aubrey Organics.

California Baby Everyday/Year-Round™ Sunscreen

Protection: SPF 30+ (Also avail. in SPF 18 Lotion and a bug/sun combo)
Active Ingredient: Micronized Titanium Dioxide (CA Baby does not specify particle size and does not respond to inquiries)
Skin Deep Rating SPF 30: 1 (last updated 7/2010) SPF 18 Lotion: 2 (last updated 7/2010)
Prices: $19.99 – 39.00 
Notes: Kathy Says: “CA Baby SPF 30 goes on thick and works well but it’s sticky and makes you look a bit white (or purple depending on how much you use!). However this is one of the more effective brands. Their website claims its not greasy but that has been the case for me.  Perhaps they have changed their formula since I last tried it. It’s also the most accessible as it’s easy to find in a pinch – they carry it at stores like Target and at local grocery chains. Many parents have been using this one and I think it would fit well for swimming or beach days when you need something durable.  The greasier sunscreens like this one and Badger seem to be the most water resistant. Prices went up too… $20-40 bucks depending on the size.”   

Mama Rose’s Naturals SunBlocker All Natural Sunscreen

Protection: SPF 30, SPF 50
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (non-nano, coated)
Skin Deep Rating: N/A
Price / Where to buy: $15.00 – 18.00 /

Notes: Seems to be chemical free, comes in an SPF 50 too.  Goes on really white, but its never sticky or slimy like others can be. Is a little chalky but I think that’s due to the higher SPF. Rinses off too easily when swimming though so it would be better for non water days but honestly… I’ve used others that are better.  The small size is great for a purse or bag but not my favorite. But if you’re a fan, her ingredients pass my inspections and I approve.  Does anyone buy/use this one? I keep wanting to take it off the list for no reason other than I don’t know that anyone bothers with it.

Sunblock Sticks (Some)

ECO STICK SPF 30+ By Raw Elements

Protection: SPF 30+

Active Ingredient: non-nano Zinc Oxide 22.75%
Skin Deep Rating: 1
Price: $16.00 for a .60 ounce stick / Good Things Green Things
Notes: When it comes to ingredients, Raw Elements has an incredibly safe product.  The stick version is just as safe as the lotion above.  Minimal organic ingredients and in a handy wide tube. Goes on whiter than others but is great for protecting noses and ears, etc during hot summer days.  Durable protection at it’s finest.  I think the price point is a bit high for such a tiny stick of sunscreen but it does last for quit a while.  I also love the shape, easier to apply.

True Naturals SPF Sports Stick for Faces & Body

truenat-stick Protection: SPF 30

Active Ingredient:  Non-nano Titanium Dioxide – 8% & Non-nano Zinc Oxide 5%
Skin Deep Rating: 1
Price: $14.50 for a .60 ounce stick / Good Things Green Things
Notes: I am liking the ingredients in this new brand True Naturals – I’m awaiting a sample but check it out: Butyospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cera Alba (Beeswax), Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Peel Oil Expressed, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuss (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis ( Sweet Almond) Oil, Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E).

Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sports Stick

Protection: SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 20% (non-nanoparticle)
Skin Deep Rating:
Price: $12.00 for a .6oz stick that lasts a long time.
Notes: Award Winner. Kathy says, “I don’t know how they did it, but Babo Botanicals made a sunscreen that isn’t white.  No matter how much you put on, it goes on CLEAR.  It’s a miracle.  It smells like green apples, smooths on well and did I mention it’s not white?? This would be great for lips too because it’s clear.  I cannot tell you how much I hate having white lips from natural lip blocks!  I have always had a soft spot for Babo Botanicals and this is why… they keep making great products.  This product is also vegan for those looking for a vegan solution.  Love this product!  I won’t live without it. My new summer staple. “

Purple Prairie Sun Stick

Protection: SPF 30
Active Ingredient: 20% micronized, non-nano zinc oxide
Skin Deep Rating: 1 (last updated 2/2011)
Price: $9.00 / Good Things Green Things
Notes: Purple Prairie has some great products and this one in particular has a fabulous ingredients list.  Totally chemical free and uses mostly organic ingredients.  Kathy says, “This is a great product to have on hand and I like the stick being wider so it covers more area.  That said, there is a whiteness to content with and it is a little sticker than a lotion because of it’s solid nature.  But it protects and it was a life saver for me on a day I was caught without something for the pool.  Great choice for a solid sunblock.”

Badger Balm SPF 30+ Sunscreen All Season Face Stick

Protection: SPF 30+
Active Ingredient: Non-Nano Uncoated Zinc Oxide 22.5%
Skin Deep Rating: 1 (last updated 4/2011)

Price / Where to buy: $8.50 / (use code “Safe10″ for 10% off)
Notes: I love all of Badger Balm’s products and this one is no exception for my love.  Badger’s face stick is all natural and uses mostly Certified Organic ingredients. It’s very water resistant (retains SPF protection up to 80 minutes), safe for children of all ages, blocks both UVA and UVB rays, and protects from sun, windburn, and chapping. This is a good one to have on hand and can be found relatively easily in stores and online. There is a level of whiteness with this and most natural sunscreen sticks but can be reduced with rubbing.


TruKid Unscented SPORT Sunny Days Stick

Protection: SPF 35+
Active Ingredient:  titanium dioxide 8%; zinc oxide 5%
Skin Deep Rating: 1 (last updated 1-/2012)
Price: $12.99

Notes: I’ve used their other sunstick formula with success and do like it.  I thought that their sunstick was zinc oxide only but it’s back to a mix of both zinc and titanium.  If that’s not an issue for you then have at it!  I love to keep these in my bag for emergencies like extended playground time.  The rest of the ingredients are great.

California Baby Everyday/Year-Round™ Sunblock Stick

Protection: SPF 30+
Active Ingredient: Micronized Titanium Dioxide 18%
Skin Deep Rating: 2 (last updated 7/2010) Unscented stick rates a 1
Price: $14.99

Notes: I haven’t used this one personally but I’m sure it works as intended.  My only concern with this one is the use of Titanium and the lack of knowledge I have regarding the particle size.  I’ve contacted CA Baby in the past and have been unsuccessful at obtaining a response. This one is readily available and easy to find in stores and while it’s not my first choice, it will do in a pinch.

Kiss My Face Kids SPF 30 Sun Stick

Protection: SPF 30 (Comes in blue, pink and “clear”)
Active Ingredient: Titanium Dioxide (12.5%), Zinc Oxide (7.5%)
Skin Deep Rating: N/A
Price: $10.00 / Kiss My Face

Notes: I haven’t used this one either and the reviews regarding the blue and pink sticks say it’s a little weird but the white stick claims to rub in clear. Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (12.5%), Zinc Oxide (7.5%) Cera Alba (Beeswax), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Theobroma Cacao (Coco Butter), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange) Essential Oil, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Essential Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E) May Contain: Mica, Iron Oxides *=Organic

Sunscreen’s That Almost Make the Cut (Fine in a pinch)

But don’t due to a questionable ingredient. Some of you think I’m too strict and some of you think I’m not strict enough. I’m always torn when a really great sunscreen doesn’t make the list because there is one or two ingredients that don’t sit right with me.  Phenoxyethanol is a deal breaker for me.  Not because I’m trying to make your life difficult (I swear that is not my intention) but because I’ve read information that makes me wonder if its just another paraben in the grand scheme of things.  Some of these are good products, products I’ve used and liked but were cautious to recommend. Dimethicone has been a big question mark too.  There has been some questionable info published about it and I can’t seem to get a straight answer on that information from a 3rd party with no particular company involvement.  Companies that use it swear by it’s safety (and it even rates low in Skin Deep).  Companies that don’t seem to have good reasons to avoid it. It’s a chemical derived from sand meant to provide lubrication (makes a product go on smoother). Companies that don’t use it choose natural oils or butters instead. I do have one or two brands up there in the list that contain it but they were void of any other of my red flags so they passed, but I still made a note if it’s there.  It will have to be a judgement call on your part if you want to avoid it or not.  All these sunscreens below are free of chemical sun blocking ingredients, parabens, phthalates, PEG’s, and propylene glycol.  So if you need something quick and don’t have time to scour for the safest, these will do.

FINALLY: One brand I will not include on any list is BabyGanics Sunscreen.  I get TONS of questions about this one and I refuse to endorse it.  It’s loaded with chemicals (to name a few; PEG, phenoxyethanol, dimethicone, polysorbate 60, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, and it uses chemical sunscreen ingredients).  EWG rates it a TWO which blows my MIND.  BabyGanics is Greenwashing at it’s finest.

Sunscreen Usage and Sun Tips

Follow the directions on the sunscreen you use for proper sun protection. However, our motto is “everything in moderation”. This means sun exposure too of course. It’s ok to be out in the sun for 20 minutes without covering every square inch of your kid with SPF 80. Sun exposure is good for us, (Vitamin D!), and it’s been studied that people – especially kids – with regular moderate time in the sun are healthier and may have less risk of developing conditions like Multiple Sclerosis or other auto-immune deficiencies. But sunburns are not good, so choose a safe sunscreen for long days in the sun and apply according to the directions for days when extended sun exposure is on the docket!

When the option is available, use hats, cotton clothing or use the shade of umbrellas to avoid too much sun exposure. No need to bake in the sun all day… keep cool and stay in the shade! Investing in some SPF Protected clothing for the kids is a good idea too. It reduces the need for so much sunscreen and can have a UVB protection of up to 50. Snapper Rock makes great SPF Swimwear for kids. I like Baby Banz Sun Hats for baby and kids… they also have a wide brimmed bucket hat with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating of 50+. The wide brim helps keep sun off kids faces. If you can avoid prolonged sun exposure between 10-2 it’s recommended.  Can’t keep hats on your kids? Wear one yourself.  Kids are more likely to keep them on if you’re joining in.

Most importantly enjoy the outdoors and fresh air! Be sure to check out our Safer Bug Repellent Cheat Sheet for safe choices to keep the buggies at bay.

My General Disclaimer

No, I am not a chemist or a scientist or a doctor even. This is just how an educated woman is able to contend with selecting products for our kids.  Based on the massive amount of materials I have read, ingredients I have researched, and the people I have interviewed, these are my top recommended sunscreens.  I look for products that are made with real natural ingredients and use large particle physical sunscreen (Zinc Oxide is my top choice but I do have some on here with Titanium Dioxide as well).  If you do not like my recommendations you are welcome to do your own research.  I am always open to hearing what other parents, chemists, doctors or scientists want to share with me.  This is also not a comprehensive list.  There may be perfectly good sunscreens out there that are not on my list simply because I am unaware of them.  If you would like me to check out a particular brand, please feel free to email me about it.  Thanks!