Anyway, everyone is looking for the sun protection that will be safest for their little one. It is often assumed that you should NOT use sunscreen on babies under 6 months. But, the American Academy of Pediatrics now states that sunscreen is probably safe to use on younger children, especially if you just use it on small areas of your baby’s skin that are exposed to the sun and not protected by clothing, such as the infant’s hands and face. The issue with sunscreens (and really any body-care product) is that baby’s skin absorbs chemicals so well and their bodies are so tiny, they get a larger “dose” of sunscreen than we do as adults. Also, they put everything in their mouth. At the beach, they will be eating sand, chewing on driftwood, and sucking on their hands and feet. And ingesting a little dose of whatever sunscreen we slathered them with. So, we have to be thoughtful with we are “dosing” them with.
There are two main types of sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens work by soaking into your skin and absorbing the UV rays. Their active ingredients can include Octinoxate, Avobenzone, etc. Physical sunscreens work by sitting on top of your skin and scattering the UV rays. Their active ingredients usually include Titanium dioxide (TiO2) or Zinc oxide (ZnO).
Many people feel more comfortable with physical sunscreens for their babies and children. In fact, almost all sunscreen specifically branded as “baby” or “kid” are physical sunscreens containing Zinc oxide or Titanium dioxide. These ingredients are absorbed less through the skin. They are potentially less toxic than other ingredients. Also, they are more “visible” on the skin and make it harder to “miss a spot”.
I also think it is important to pay attention to the “inactive ingredients” in sunscreens as well. Be aware of what preservatives, fragrances, creams, etc are being used. These are all ingredients that will be absorbed and/or ingested. Along with all that sand…….. I like to look at ingredient lists and understand most of what I am reading. I know I’m not a chemist. I probably won’t understand everything. Or be able to pronounce anything. And, really, everything is a chemical. Water is a chemical. Olive oil is a chemical. But they’re pretty natural chemicals.
At Mom and Pop Place, we carry physical sunscreens for kids from Kiss My Face. They are natural, fragrance-free, SPF 30, water-resistant, and pretty darn safe. They contain Zinc Oxide and Titanium dioxide to scatter UV rays. They also contain things like sunflower seed oil, green tea leaf extract, carrot root extract, and mango seed butter. They do NOT contain PABA, phthalates, artificial colors, or sodium benzoate*.
So, protect your little one as best you can. The best sunscreen is common sense. Stay in the shade, get a wide-brimmed hat, avoid the high-noon rays. When you decide to use a sunscreen, do a little research to find one you like. Find a company you trust. Read the ingredients list. If something concerns you, look it up. Ask your friends. Ask us. Then go outside!
*Did you say “sodium benzoate”? I’m glad you asked! That reminds me………we no longer carry any products from California Baby. Sad, because they used to be our go-to source for safer sunscreens. But they started changing their ingredients and their formulas. And not being totally up front about it. They added the preservative sodium benzoate to several of their products. That, by itself, would not have been enough for them to lose our business. Many products need preservatives. Most people have no problem with sodium benzoate. But some people do. And when people started asking California Baby about their formula changes, they were not up-front about it. They were not respectful of their loyal customers. They completely disregarded the small (non-Target) companies that built them. Frankly, they have always been a nightmare to deal with on our end. Poor customer service, slow ship times, lost orders, no way to reach a real-live-actual person in their office………….but they were California Baby. Our customers loved their stuff. We love our customers. We felt we could at least trust their products whether we liked their office staff or not. But, when I read the “dialogue” on their Facebook page about the formula changes (which they have now deleted), my choice was pretty clear. Goodbye California. Thanks for asking……