Published July 26, 2011
Summer is here. And that means longer days and a lot more time outside. It also means making sure there is plenty of sunscreen on hand.
Most of us understand the importance of using a sunscreen, especially when it comes to protecting babies and children. What many parents don’t realize, however, is that not all sunscreens are the same and some sunscreens are safer and provide better protection than others. In fact, some of the most popular sunscreens aren’t all that effective and many may contain potentially hazardous ingredients.
For more than 30 years, consumer groups have demanded the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enact sunscreen product regulations. Last month, the FDA finally released the new guidelines aimed at addressing some of the outrageous and misleading claims by manufacturers and set a minimum standard for sunscreens but didn’t go far enough and is much weaker than European standards.
Unfortunately, the FDA’s new recommendations – which won’t go into effect until 2012 – fail to include important product information that consumers need to know. Information like the potentially harmful ingredients of many sunscreens, some that could contribute to the development of skin cancer. Retinyl palmitate – a vitamin A derivative and possible photocarcinogen – is one such ingredient used in many sunscreens and has been found to accelerate tumor growth in animal studies. Oxybenzone and Helioplex, possible hormone disrupters, are other possibly toxic ingredients.
If you are a busy parent all of this can be really confusing and difficult to figure out which sunscreens will provide their child with the best protection and is also safe. It is important to understand that the sun’s blistering UV rays can damage unprotected skin in only 15 minutes and it only takes a few bad sunburns to raise your child’s risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
So choosing a sunscreen that actually works and made with ingredients that are safe requires a little research.
Being prepared to protect your children’s skin is just another aspect of good parenting and consumers need reliable information about sunscreen effectiveness and safety.
Here are a few summer sun tips that will help you protect your children and yourself:
1. Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide with an SPF of 15 or higher. SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays; SPF 30 blocks 97 percent; and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. Learn more at The Skin Cancer Foundation.
2. Avoid sunscreens that contain parabens, PABA, benzophenone, oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, padimate O and homosalate.
3. Babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight.
4. Wear a hat making sure the brim is big enough to shield the ears and neck.
5. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent absorption to protect the eyes and the sensitive skin around the eyes.
6. Eat a diet high in antioxidants like vegetables, fruits, super foods such as acai, coconut water, maca, and cacao.
7. Check your vitamin D levels. If you are deficient, you can be more vulnerable to getting skin damage. High vitamin D levels can protect against sunburn. Learn more at Vitamin D Council.
Here are a few sunscreens I like:
1. Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Green Tea Protective Sunscreen SPF 15, 20 or 25
2. Dr. Hauschka’s Sunscreen Cream for Children and Sensitive Skin SPF 30
3. Lavera Sun Screen SPF 30 Babies and Children
For more information on sunscreens go to, "Dangers of Sunscreens" at Vitamin D Council.
Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health CenterTM at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. Deirdre is the author of four books, including three national bestsellers. She is a frequent speaker on green living and children’s health issues, and is a contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com. For more information go to www.dienviro.com