As soon as the weather gets a little nicer here in Canada, the most commonly asked question on all the Facebook Mom Groups is “What is the best sunscreen for babies.” Today I am going to talk about the best natural sunscreens.
Why Natural Sunscreens are a Smart Choice
As I have went over in previous blog posts, toxins found in skincare products, sequester or “hang out” in our fat cells. This is particularly problematic for babies and kids because this means that they are not only exposed to those toxins when the product is applied, but the toxins are stored in their fat cells and released as they grow.
-Babies in particular, have a big surface area of skin versus body weight as compared to adults so this make it possible for them to absorb more from skincare products.
-Babies and children have immature detoxification pathways and processes
-Babies and children have a higher % body fat in which to store toxins from sunscreen.
You may have noticed in the last few years that many of the conventional sunscreen brands have come out with more natural or “simple” formulations. This is no coincidence. In 2019 and 2020 the FDA published reports that oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzoate are all systemically absorbed into the body after one use. These ingredients have not had sufficient testing done on them to be generally regarded as safe” as they were just allowed to pass as safe without being tested when sunscreens were coming onto the market in the 1970’s. Some of these chemicals have been shown to be skin irritants, mimic estrogen, impair thyroid function and alter the reproductive systems of animals. Zinc oxide and Titanium oxide are the only 2 sun blocking ingredients that has received the designation of Generally Regarded as Safe by the FDA. Zinc oxide acts as physical barrier (which is why it is harder to rub in) and helps to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
Sunscreen in Babies Under 6 Months
The recommendation to not use sunscreen on babies under 6 months is referring to conventional sunscreens. Babies under 6 months old can use zinc oxide-based sunscreens. Zinc oxide is one of the main ingredients in many diaper creams. Babies under 6 months however usually do not require sunscreen because they are not yet mobile, so it is much easier to keep them covered and in the shade. If that is not possible, it is ok to use a zinc oxide-based sunscreen.
What About Vitamin D?
It is important to avoid sunburns and over exposure to the sun, but your baby should not avoid the sun altogether. Babies, especially if they are breastfed, are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. Exposure to the sun from May to October, in more northern areas like Canada, is an easy way to build your baby’s Vitamin D stores. You only need to expose their skin for 5-10 minutes per day to help insure adequate levels of vitamin D. This should not be done midday between 10-3pm, when the UV index is typically the highest. Vitamin D plays an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system, bone development and has been shown to help reduce the incidence of some cancers.
My Favorite Sunscreens
Here is a round up of my top picks of sunscreens for babies and kids
- Green Beaver Baby Sunscreen SPF 35 – one of my favs that I have used myself for years. I suggest applying this one in the morning, or before heading out for the day, and using it as your base sunscreen. It contains non-nano particle zinc oxide. It can be a little tough to rub in on a squirming toddler which is why I suggest using it as your first sunscreen and not for reapplication on the go. Green Beaver is a great Canadian company. I have met with their founder and had a tour of their facility and can attest that they are committed to providing their customers with safe and effective products
- Green Beaver Kids Spray Sunscreen SPF 27- the spray is easier to apply and rub in on the go.
- Badger Active Minerals Sunscreen Stick- My go to for babies and kids with sensitive skin or allergies. It is made with just 6 ingredients and is a clear zinc so it is easy to apply and doesn't leave much of a white residue. I use this one for reapplications in the day or if we are going out in a hurry and don't have time to apply cream sunscreen
- Badger Baby Sunscreen SPF 40- Made with clear zinc so it rubs in clear. One of the only natural sunscreens I have found that doesn't contain coconut it that is an issue for you. I love this one for babies and young kids, but it is greasy, and I find it is too greasy to use on myself
- ThinkBaby SPF 50- my other fav and sunscreen that has been in my rotation for years. It is a thicker sunscreen and can be a bit challenging to rub in. It has a slight scent, from essential oils, that I really like. I would use this as the base sunscreen that you apply before heading out for the day
- ThinkBaby Sunscreen Stick SPF 30- easier to apply for on the go
All of these sunscreens canbe found a Terra20. Terra20 offers shipping across Canada
Sunscreen Causing Skin Dryness
One of the side effects of using a zinc oxide-based sunscreen can be that it dries your baby’s skin out with frequent use. My favorite way to prevent this is to apply Eco Chic Movement’s Baby Lotion and Baby Face Cream before bed.
I hope this helped to answer your natural sunscreen questions. If you have any questions/comments, feel free to post them below.
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