Safer Sunscreens

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Summer is a time kids are outside for hours, whether at the beach, by the pool, or just playing around the neighborhood with their friends. The sun feels great on our skin after the cool months of winter and spring, and it's a terrific source of vitamin D. There are, however, guidelines about safer sun and sunscreen exposure.

  • Young children should avoid direct sunlight for extended periods of time - make sure they're not getting overheated and that they are drinking plenty of fluids. Even older kids and teens need to make sure they're keeping up with hydration needs.
  • Look for these active ingredients in sunscreens: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide; they are the safest and most effective.
  • There are potentially carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in many commercially available sunscreens. Avoid these ingredients:parabens, PABA, benzophenone, oxybenzone, octinoxate (also called octyl methoxycinnamate), homosalate, padimate O, avobenzone.
  • Most children's sunscreens are SPF 20 or higher; the higher the number, the longer they will be effective. However, you must apply 30 minutes before exposure and reapply every two hours, especially after swimming.
  • It is safe for babies under 6 months to have sunscreen applied, but it is still preferable to avoid direct sunlight for extended periods at this age. Use clothing, hats and sunglasses as physical barriers, too.

Here are a few recommended sunscreens which list all of their ingredients:

  • Aubrey Organics natural sun SPF 25 Green Tea Protective Sunscreen
  • Burt's Bees Chemical-Free Sunscreen SPF 30
  • Dr. Hauschka Sunscreen Cream for Children and Sensitive Skin SPF 30
  • Lavera Sun Screen SPF 30 Babies and Children

For more information on sunscreens and other tips on healthy personal care products, pick up a copy of my latest book, The Essential Green You! Easy ways to detox your diet, your body, and your lifeand visit

Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology (r) 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 For more information go to