Update Note: We published an updated cheat sheet for sunscreen which you can find here: SafeMama’s 2009 Safer Sunscreen Cheat Sheet – please refer to the new version with many more brands to choose from.
We here at SafeMama™ consider ourselves to be pretty picky when it comes to sunscreens. Heck, we’re pretty picky when it comes to just about any skin care product these days (This is my last bottle of Aveda shampoo, I swear ) and we like to think that’s a good thing. We know a lot of you have asked us for sunscreen recommendations, and with summer just around the bend, we got busy testing them out. We’ve tried just about every sunscreen on the market before we were happy with the short list of the whole five sunscreens we considered to be on the safer side. We sniffed, we slathered, we absorbed. And now we’re sharing our findings with you.
We say safer, because as a general rule of thumb, sunscreens should be used sparingly*. The active ingredients in just about every sunscreen can create harmful free-radicals when out in the sun. If you’re going to be in the sun all day, of course even chemical sunscreen is better than turning into a leather handbag, or worse, ending up with skin cancer. Some sun is GOOD for you (Vitamin D!), but if you need a sunscreen for a long day at the beach, we have a few we like best. When the option is available, use hats, cotton clothing or use the shade of umbrellas to avoid too much sun exposure.
Safe Mama Criteria: All sunscreens we approved needed to be free of parabens, phthalates, and all the nasty ingredients we avoid in regular skin care (like PEG’s). Another ingredient we watch out for 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.
We’ve created a cute little handy dandy pdf file for you that you can print out and take to the store, or better yet, save a tree and shop online, as there’s a link to each sunscreen by simply mousing over the name and clicking. All sunscreens have been cross referenced when possible, with the Cosmetic Safety Database. We realize that the database is not completely accurate, but we know that some of you like to know what is in the products, so keep in mind it’s for informational purposes only, and should be used with a bit of caution.
You can find our updated 2009 List of Safer Sunscreens here, or simply by clicking the icon.
Let summer begin!
*By “sparingly” we mean in moderation. Choose a sunscreen that suits you and your family and follow the recommended usage on the bottle/tube for best protection. Use your judgment.