Summer means sandy days at the beach, walks along beautiful Lake Michigan and dining al fresco. It also means an increased amount of time spent outdoors in the sunshine. While we all crave our Vitamin D, it’s vital to protect our skin from UVA and UVB exposure that ages our skin and, in the worst cases, leads to skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “More skin cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year than all other cancers combined,” and the number of cases continues to increase each decade. The good news is, according to findings from a recent study by Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, wearing SPF 30 sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, by up to 80 percent.
It’s vital to wear sunscreen on both your face and body. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF 30 or above, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and water resistance. Your sunscreen should have an expiration date, but generally sunscreen is good for up to three years and should be stored in a cool place.
If you’re looking for even greater protection than a sunscreen, consider sun-protective clothing.
According to a CNN study, regular clothing only has an SPF of about 7. Brands like Mott 50 and Cabana Life are both stylish and protective. Think trendy rash guards, lightweight dresses and comfy tees. Both lines have a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor — the rating applied to sun-protective clothing) of 50 and sell items for both adults and children.
Even with sun-protective clothing, you’ll still need sunscreen for your exposed parts. Being a grown-up doesn’t mean you can’t use “children’s” sunscreen. In fact, many sunscreens that are marketed to children contain safer ingredients and are often fragrance-free. Bottom line: Both regular sunscreen and children’s sunscreen should protect against UVA and UVB filters and contain ingredients Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide, Avonebenzone, Tinosorb and Mexoryl.
One more tip? Skip the sunscreen sprays, particularly for your kids. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) advises against the use of sprays, citing “concerns about inhalation and inadequate sun protection.”
The Top 6 Sunscreens for Grown-Ups and Littles (6 months+)
Ranked as top sunscreens by the EWG
Why we love it: Originally created in Australia where sunscreen standards are the strictest in the world, Blue Lizard sunscreens are pharmaceutical-grade, mineral-based containing zinc, and available in a variety of formulas that are all broad-spectrum UVA/UVB coverage and SPF 30+. The patented BPA-free bottle changes color when it is exposed to harmful rays as a reminder to re-apply your sunscreen. Baby and sensitive formulas, which happen to be paraben-free, chemical-free and fragrance-free, are available.
Why we love it: Badger is a family-owned company and each of their organic products is made in the U.S.A. The company examines the growth, sustainability, and supply chain of each ingredient used so customers can be assured that their products are derived from the purest, most natural resources available. Since the USDA Organic Certification is a food-grade standard, the ingredients are even pure enough to eat (not that we’re recommending it)! If you want a little color, try the Tinted Face Sunscreen. Looking for tangerine and vanilla-scented sunscreen your kids will actually want to put on? Badger has it! There is truly something for everyone in this line.
Why we love it: Babytime! by Episencial is an industry-leading skincare company that uses all-natural ingredients, the majority of which are organic. The line doesn’t contain chemicals and uses juice extracts to scent products instead of fragrance. Babytime! prides itself on being the safest, most effective choice for babies (and just as effective for grown-ups). The popular Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35 is lightweight, broad-spectrum, water-resistant for 80 minutes, and enriched with green tea to soothe. Another bonus? The website lets you search by allergy so you can find products that promise they’re void of dairy, nuts, wheat or gluten.
Why we love it: COOLA’s products are composed of natural, organic, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients and devoid of parabens, PABA, petroleum and phthalates. The line is also formulated with Plant Protection® to achieve products with high levels of UV protection and fewer potentially irritating actives. There’s an abundance of unique products in the line, but if you’re looking for a sunscreen that also aids in anti-aging, try the Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish Sunscreen. The preservative-free, SPF 30 formula offers UVA/UVB protection and a refreshing light cucumber scent. Rose hip oil, evening primrose, and flax seed oils help skin improve elasticity, retain moisture and fight free radicals.
Why we love it: Bare Republic Naturals is the sister line of COOLA Suncare and retails exclusively at Target. The natural, mineral-based, water-resistant formulas offer broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and are 100 percent free of chemical actives or parabens. The SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion is one of the most coveted products in the line. Although it’s a mineral sunscreen, the formulation is lightweight, sheer and won’t leave a clown-like white residue. In addition to the bottled sunscreens, we love the SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick because you can throw it in your purse and reapply to your kids or yourself while on the go.
Why we love it: With SPF 50+, the highest level of UVA and UVB protection (you may see others labeled with higher numbers, but experts agree any added protection beyond 50 is negligible), and the highest level of water resistance at 80 minutes, you’ll feel good wearing Thinkbaby’s mineral-based suncare line. It’s also free of parabens, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals. The sunscreens apply and absorb easily without leaving an oily residue. Best of all, Thinkbaby makes a conscious effort to create safe products that leave as little impact on the environment as possible.
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