Ah, summertime! The sky is blue, the sun is bright; you lather up the kids with sunscreen for a dip in the pool… But are toxic chemicals swimming in your sunscreen? Here are our quick tips for choosing the safest sunscreens and protecting your whole family from sun and toxic chemicals!
Look for sunscreens that contain zinc or titanium as the active ingredients. These provide broad protection against UV (ultraviolet) rays and are the least toxic active ingredients available. Avoid sunscreens that contain these active ingredients linked with hormone effects: oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate.
Avoid sunscreens that list ‘fragrance’ in the ingredients. Fragrances may contain phthalates, chemicals linked with reproductive effects and asthma.
Choose sunscreens with SPFs of 15 or higher. ‘Sun Protection Factor’ is a measurement of how well a product protects against UVB rays, the type of rays that cause sunburn.
Be sure that you are purchasing sunscreen or sunblock. Suntan lotions and tanning lotions do not contain active ingredients to protect against UV rays.
Apply your sunscreen generously and reapply at least every 2 hours. Most people do not apply enough sunscreen to actually reach the product's SPF rating.
Don’t depend solely on your sunscreen for protection. Remember to wear protective hats and clothing, and try to stay in the shade, especially between 10am and 4pm.
Minimize the use of sunscreen on infants under six months, who should be kept out of direct sunlight. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using minimal amounts of sunscreen on small areas only when adequate clothing and shade are not available.Have a great summer!
June 2008 Growing Up Green Newsletter
Washington Toxics Coalition