Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunscreen Queen

I'm about to make my snow bound readers very jealous. Are you ready? Here it goes......

It's going to be 90 degrees today.

In March. It's early, even for us, to have it be that warm, but it is what it is. The flip flops are out, the windows are open and my kids are salivating for a chance to dive into the first pool they can find (which happens to be the one at our gym. It opens for outdoor swimming in April!) Warmer weather also means adding an extra step to our morning routine...holding down wiggling, squiggling kids and slathering them head to toe in sunscreen.

My husband has affectionately nick named me "The Sunscreen Queen." All summer, every summer I'm chasing him and my children around with sun sticks and hats. This is the desert, I tell them. Don't want to be all wrinkly and brown when we're old, do we? My summer diligence has slipped into other seasons as well and my kids have been seen lubed up with sun protection at Thanksgiving dinners and Easter picnics. I've been slopping sunscreen on myself since I was a teenager due to my pale complexion. It was either lube it up or burn like cheese on a hot skillet. My poor son has skin like mine, unlike my daughter and my husband who rarely burn and turn the loveliest golden shade even with layers of sunscreen applied at timed two hour intervals. J and I, well....we're either white or painfully red. There's not much in between.

My little mermaid, post swim.
Though it might be a little early for the rest of you, I thought it might be a good time to prep you on green sunscreen basics.I could go on and on about the horrible chemicals in most mainstream brands but I won't. Just know that what much of what you can buy at your local grocery store it crap. Also know that natural sunscreen has come a long way in recent years. New formulations are highly effective, waterproof, and don't leave you with that pasty white sheen that is often associated with non chemical sunscreens. I got this information from the Environmental Working Group's website. They area FANTASTIC resource and I highly recommend you take a look at their annual sunscreen report as well as their Skin Deep Database, which rates body care products and their toxicity levels.

When Choosing a Sunscreen.......

  • Oxybenzone
  • Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate)
  • Added insect repellent
  • Sprays
  • Powders
  • SPF above 50+
Look For:
  • Zinc
  • Titanium dioxide 
  • Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX  
  • Cream  
  • Broad-spectrum protection
  • Water-resistant for beach, pool & exercise
  • SPF 30+ for beach & pool 
If you need help picking a sunscreen, the EWG has a sunscreen database that can help you find one that is safe and effective. They give high ratings to brands that provide broad-spectrum, long-lasting protection with ingredients that pose fewer health concerns when the body absorbs them. I ditched my Banana Boat (one of the worst offenders when it comes to harmful chemicals) for a brand from Purple Prairie Botanicals, a Mom and Pop shop in the Midwest. It was ranked in the EWG's top ten safe sunscreens and I love it. No white cast, absorbs quickly, and it doesn't make my kids break out like many of the drugstore brands used too. Reasonably priced too! The make a sunstick that I LOVE, especially for those little noses and cheeks.

Before you get all up arms about parting with your beloved store brand, SPF 100 sunblock spray, go the EWG's website and look around. I promise you'll change your mind. You'll be clamoring for the chemical free variety before you can say water slide! Be kind to your body and your planet. Here's to a safe and chemical free summer. Happy swimming!  


  1. We use the Badger brand, which was also voted to be one of the best, but definitely leaves a very thick, creamy residue. I think I will give this one a try! We're off to Florida next week so we'll be needing it (hopefully!)

  2. Yes, very jealous of 90 degrees. I thought the 45 we hit today was amazing! But I hear ya about the sunscreen. I lather that stuff on myself EVERYDAY all year, no kidding. I have gotten sun burnt on my cheeks in winter! Very pale skin. So my kids get lathered too. Great advice on what to look for and what to avoid.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. very informative post. Most of the snow has finally melted here in Mass. this is my first visit to your blog.

    happy day!