SafeMama Safer Sunscreen Cheat Sheet

Last updated on May 27th, 2022 at 04:19 pm

Updated for 2022 the safer sunscreen cheat sheet is here. Since 2007 our cheat sheets have helped parents make informed product decisions. This Cheat Sheet covers what to look for in a safer non-toxic sunscreens.  We will also address which chemical ingredients to avoid in sunscreens.

Our goal is to give you as many safer sunscreen options as possible. 

Before you know it you’ll be a wiz at choosing a non-toxic sunscreen!

SafeMama Tip: Remember to read those labels.  Manufacturers change formulations often.

SafeMama™ Sunscreen Criteria; Ingredients To Avoid (Bad Sunscreen Ingredients)

 

All sunscreens I approved needed to be free of the following. 

Basically, they should contain a considerable amount of natural ingredients. 

Check out our Glossary to better understand the above ingredients. 

What Is The Worst Chemical In Sunscreens?

The sunscreen ingredient I mainly recommend avoiding is the synthetic chemical oxybenzone. It is the active ingredient found in most sunscreens that are not mineral-based. 

Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor that can affect

If Oxybenzone is listed as an ingredient on sunscreen, I recommend not using it. Learn more about Oxybenzone and sunscreen at Cancer.org

What Is The Best Active Ingredient In Safe Sunscreens? 

The active ingredient in natural sunscreens is either  Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide.

I prefer Zinc Oxide over Titanium Dioxide but I have a few sunscreens listed here that contain both (I’ve grouped them accordingly).  Read more about Zinc Oxide at the Babo Botanicals blog.

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 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 judgment call and I just outline your options!

 

Micronized vs Nano Particles in Sunscreen Does It Matter?

There have been many reports that micronized vs. nanoparticles 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 nanoparticles in my list. In most cases, I have confirmed with the company that the particle sizes are larger than 100nm.

Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) in Sunscreen

Years ago the EWG put out their Sunscreen Guide and with it, 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 but it is easy to avoid so I have not included any sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate. Most companies have eliminated it. Learn more about Vitamin A in sunscreens here

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen For UVA and UBA rays.

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: SkinCancer.org).  

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 Sunscreen Rating

I include these in each listing as a convenience to you. Truth be told I don’t put a lot of weight on the rating to make my choices on products but it’s a beginner’s 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.

Safer Spray and Aerosol Sunscreen

Camps require it, parents love it, and companies are jumping on the bandwagon.  My thoughts are that the aerosol or pump spray natural brands are OK to use if you take precautions such as

  1. Avoid spraying these on your kid’s faces, it’s natural but inhaling this stuff is not a great idea. Use a natural brand cream on faces and sprays for all-over coverage. 
  2. Re-apply more often than you think you need to.  They don’t cover as well as lotions and creams do unless you are really diligent.  
  3. Shake these up before use – the ingredients could separate in the bottle and you won’t get the coverage the product promises.

 

 

Safer Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide Only Including Lotions, Sprays & Creams.

 

1. Earth Mama Organics Kids Mineral Sunscreen

 

Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 by Earth Mama
5.0



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Protection:
SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Non-nano, uncoated Zinc Oxide 21.5%
Skin Deep Rating SPF 30: 1
Notes:  SafeMama TOP PICK!!! I can’t tell you how excited I was when Earth Mama – the OG of safe, natural, painstakingly cultivated products for mamas, babies and well, everyone, came out with a line of sunscreen. 

Every ingredient is vetted and tested for efficacy, and safety. Earth Mama only uses the most natural organic ingredients possible to help lighten the toxic load on our systems.  On top of all that they have an Uber-Sensitive version for those who just need a little extra TLC in the skin department. What’s even better is that they also have Lady Face™ Tinted Sunscreen sticks for us sassy mamas. Contour, anyone?)  I could go on forever about my Earth Mama love but you can go check them out or yourself!

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, 21.5% Inactive Ingredients: Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Cocos Nucifera (Fractionated Coconut) Oil*, Cera Alba (Beeswax)*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Tocopherol, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil*, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe Vera)*, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract* *Organic

 

2. Badger Baby Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40

 

Badger SPF 40 Baby Sunscreen Cream
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Protection: SPF 40
Active Ingredient: Non-nano, uncoated Zinc Oxide 22.5%
Skin Deep Rating SPF 40: 1
Notes:   Badger is always at the top of my list because they have lasted my test of time. They really work and I trust their safety. 

Years ago many natural sunscreens were thick and white and difficult to use on a daily basis. Today the landscape of sunscreen has changed and Badger has 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”.  

Badger also has active sunscreens which are thicker and stay on great for swimming, without the “sticky” feeling.  

The Baby Sunscreen is a beautiful 8 ingredient formula with gentle chamomile and calendula for sensitive baby and kid’s skin. 

Active Sunscreen Ingredient:
Uncoated Zinc Oxide 22.5%

Base Ingredients:
Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Jojoba Oil, Sunflower Vitamin E, Organic Calendula Flower Extract, Organic Chamomile Oil, Organic Seabuckthorn Fruit Extract

98% Organic Ingredients – Certified Non-GMO

 

3. Raw Elements Eco Formula SPF 30+

 

Raw Elements Organic SPF 30 Zinc Sunscreen, 3oz (2-Pack)
5.0
Pros:
  • SPF 30+
  • Broad-spectrum protection
  • Reef safe
  • Biodegradable Bio-Resin Tube
  • Safe for all ages
  • Never runs or stings eyes
  • Very water-resistant (up to 80 minutes)
  • Soy, gluten and nut free
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Protection:
 SPF 30+
Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 23%

SafeMama Rating: 5 Stars
Skin Deep Rating SPF 30: 1  EWG Verified
Notes: This sunscreen 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. 

The ingredients are as good as it gets:

Active Ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, Sunflower Oil, Cocoa Butter, Vitamin E

Other Ingredients: Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Organic Green Tea), Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Organic Black Tea), Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil (Organic Hemp Seed Oil), Cera Flava (Organic Beeswax), Coffea Arabica Seed Extract (Organic Coffee Bean), Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil (Organic Sunflower Oil), Mangifera Indica Seed Butter (Natural Mango Butter), Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil (Natural Rosemary), Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter (Cocoa Butter), Tocopherol

That’s it.  This brand also has a sunscreen stick which I list below. Also, non-GMO Project Certified.

 

4. TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30

 


Protection:
 SPF 30+

Skin Deep Rating: 1 for Ezema formulated sunscreen and 2 for Sunny Days Sunscreen

Perks: Organic ingredients and they have a sunscreen that is eczema safe  Cons: Dimethicone (if that is a concern for you)

Notes: TruKid sunscreen was one of the first I ever tried and truthfully, I still really love it.  It performs well, feels good, and smells good.  It protects really well and I think this is a great one to use for kids with skin allergies. I approve of this one wholeheartedly because of its more than respectable ingredients list.  They have several variations but the main one, that everyone loves (it smells like oranges) has a great formula.  I think it’s a good pick overall. This one is great for everything including day-to-day since it’s not sticky once applied.  There are a few different formulas including one specifically for eczema, a water and sport version, and solid sticks.

Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 20%

Other Ingredients: Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Capric Caprylic Triglyceride (Coconut), Sorbitan Stearate (vegetable), Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Hexyl Laurate, Cetyl Dimethicone (Sand), Dimethicone (Sand), Castor Oil, Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) oil, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Punica Granatum Extract (Pomegranate Juice), Hyaluronic acid, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin (Vegetable), Polyaminopropyl Biguanide

*ingredients in bold = organic

 

5. ThinkBaby (ThinkSport) SPF 50+ Sunscreen for Kids

ThinkBaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50
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Protection: SPF 50+
Active Ingredient: non-nano Zinc Oxide 20%

Skin Deep Rating 2 

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. 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 of times and I’ve not had the chance to test it.  The latest ingredients list looks fantastic.   

 

6. Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen 

Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
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Protection: SPF 50
Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 20%
Skin Deep Rating: 2

Pros: Clear! We love clear! 

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.

 

7. Beautycounter Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30

Beautycounter Countersun Daily Sheer Defense
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Protection:
 SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 19%
Skin Deep Rating: 1

Pros: This works fantastic, goes on light, and stays put. Cons: Phenoxyethanol. Expensive.

Where to Buy: Beautycounter.com
Notes: I became a Beautycounter consultant last year with a friend primarily because I love their message and their mission to get safe products in the hands of everyone.  I confess that I only use their makeup products on my skin. I have sensitive skin and they are gentle and safe around my eyes and face. The colors are beautiful too.  But this is about sunscreen.  I have and use it on myself regularly and it works really well, smells light, has great coverage and I never experience any burns when using it.  I love how it performs. It is even useable on my rash-prone son who is sensitive to lots of sunscreens. Titanium dioxide is even out for us. The drawback is the cost and as a consultant, I will openly admit that these are high-priced luxury items (along the lines of shopping at the Clinique counter).  It works, I love it. Comes in a solid stick and lip balm too.

 

Safer Sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide.

 

DonaturalsDO Naturals (Dolphin Organics) Mineral Sunscreen

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

Skin Deep Rating: n/a
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.

 

Green Beaver Kids Sunscreen SPF 40

sunscreen-spf40-lotion-kids-600x630Protection: SPF 40
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 8%, Titanium Dioxide 8%
Skin Deep Rating: N/A

Price / Where to Buy: $21.99 /GreenBeaver.com
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 (which is all zinc and no titanium and comes in SPF 27).  I have not tried these yet – it’s a Canadian brand that will make the Canadian readers happy! They have been redesigned and repackaged as well, they look great and the ingredients pass inspection too.

 

 

 

Goddess Garden SunnyKids & SunnyBaby Natural Sunscreen

GG-KidsProtection: 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 / Amazon.com
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.

 

 

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 / Mexitan.com
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 / AubreyOrganics.com
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)
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.”   

 

DonaturalsDO Naturals (Dolphin Organics) Mineral Sunscreen

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

Skin Deep Rating: n/a
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.

 

 

 Safer Sunscreen Sunblock Sticks 

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 
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-stickProtection: 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: SafeMama.com 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. “

 

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 / MightyNest.com (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.

 

Safer Spray and Aerosol Sunscreen

Camps require it, parents love it, and companies are jumping on the bandwagon.  

My thoughts are that the aerosol or pump spray natural brands are OK to use if you take precautions such as

  1. Avoid spraying these on your kid’s faces, it’s natural but inhaling this stuff is not a great idea. Use a natural brand cream on faces and sprays for all-over coverage. 
  2. Re-apply more often than you think you need to.  They don’t cover as well as lotions and creams do unless you are really diligent.  
  3. Shake these up before use – the ingredients could separate in the bottle and you won’t get the coverage the product promises.

 

1. Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 30


babobotanicalssprayProtection:
 SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 12% (Non-Nano) Minerals
Skin Deep Rating: N/A

Pros: Clear, lightweight, water and sweat resistant, hypoallergenic and great for extra sensitive skin.  Cons: Can be a little drying.

Price / Where to Buy: $22.00 /BaboBotanicals.com
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 continuous spray sunscreen from Babo Botanicals is pretty great!  It sprays on light and clear and will stay on and protect for up to 80 minutes of water play or sweating.  It is unscented and hypoallergenic so it’s ideal for people with sensitivities or allergies.  No synthetic fragrances or dyes and it’s gluten free.  Definitely one of my new favorites. I’ve tested this out on myself during exercise and it stays put.  I have had trouble with the spray nozzle breaking before I’ve used all the product but hopefully they have workd out the kinks with that.

 

 

2. Acure Clear Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 30


 Protection:
 SPF 30
Active Ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide 12%
Skin Deep Rating: N/A

Pros: Clear, lightweight, water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Price / Where to Buy: ~$16.00 /Amazon.com
Notes: I love the Acure products.  I love their skin care products and shampoos and lotions and baby care items.  I love them all.  They work great and smell great and perform and are just overall awesome.  BUT, there are a few ingredients that I don’t love in some of them so you have to use your judgment on a product to product basis. Overall they are rated really well in EWG Skin Deep. They do sneak Phenoxyethanol and a few other things from time to time. The sunscreen seems to be A-OK.  I have ordered this from Amazon to try/use/love and it’s on its way.  It’s  Vegan, Gluten, and Cruelty-free. Paraben, Sulfate, Silicone, Phthalate and Synthetic Fragrance-free and is air pressurized like the other natural sprays (no gasses). I think this is a solid choice.  Can’t wait to try it out.

 

 

Goddess Garden SunnyBody Sunscreen Continuous Spray

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

Price / Where to Buy: ~ $18.00 / Amazon.com
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 (comes in Kids and Kids Sports).  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. Due to the natural ingredients, you need to shake these up really well first to make sure they are blended – this goes for all the new sunscreen sprays on the market now.  If you try this make sure there’s white lotion spraying out. In general, I really like the performance of this brand.

 

 

Sunscreens 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 are 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 the information that makes me wonder if it is 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 have 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 its 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 butter instead. I do have one or two brands up there in the list that contains 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 judgment 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, PEGs, 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 over the years they have use (to name a few; PEG, phenoxyethanol, dimethicone and it uses chemical sunscreen ingredients).  EWG rates it a three which blows my MIND.  BabyGanics is Greenwashing at its finest.

Sunscreen Usage and Sun Tips

Follow the directions on the sunscreen 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 think Vitamin D! Also it had been studied that people,especially kids, with regular moderate time in the sun are healthier. Furthermore, kids 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 be sure to apply according to the directions for days when extended sun exposure is on the docket!

How To Safely Avoid Too Much Sun Exposure

No need to bake in the sun all day. Keep cool and stay in the shade!

Hats, clothing, and shade umbrellas are good all good options. 

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 also 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 pm is 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!