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Here Comes the Sun… now protect yourself

By Isabel Kallman

I’m loving the summer so far with the endless playing outdoors. After hours at the playground my son’s body is so dirty that I need to scrub his toes several times over with a nail brush. I love the unscheduled abandon of summer and the smell of my son’s sweet perspiration mixed with sunscreen. It reminds me of beach time as a youngster. Growing up that’s the only time I ever applied sunscreen.
Over the years, I’ve become pretty informed on matters of sun protection, but some recent articles and studies have shed some important new light, well, they really blew me away with their findings.
First, the NY Times published Saving Young Skin From the Sun’s Perils (requires registration) and then the Environmental Working Group released a thorough and mind-blowing study on the effectiveness and safety of sunscreens.
From the NY Times I discovered:
– though the jury is still out, the risk of future melanoma may well be increased by even one blistering sunburn in childhood.
– dark-colored clothes are a better protection than light-colored ones.
– a white t-shirt when wet, only has an SPF of two.
– you can wash clothing in SunGuard which treats fabric with Tinsorb, providing 96% ultraviolet protection that is retained through about 20 washings.
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) widespread study concluded that many sunscreen products are not effective and safe, including one of every eight high-SPF sunscreens that do not protect from UVA rays. Of the 783 products they tested only 16% are both safe and effective, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards. Of those 783 sunscreens tested, they are only recommending 128 of them. The EWG urges caution on 618 of those products and recommends consumers avoid 37 of them.
blue%20lizard.jpgOf the top 50 selling products, these are the top 5 best and worst sunscreens.
Top 5 Best:
– Blue Lizard Australian Suncream, SPF 30, Baby & Sensitive
– Mustela Bebe High Protection Sun Lotion, SPF 50
– Fallene Cotz Water Resistant Sunscreen (SPF 58)
– California Baby Water Resistant, Hypo-Allergenic Sunscreen, SPF 30+
– Coppertone Spectra3 Sunblock Lotion SPF 50
Top 5 Worst:
– Lubriderm Daily Moisturizer Lotion with Sunscreen SPF 15
– No-Ad Sunblock, Lotion, Waterproof, SPF 15
– Coppertone Continuous Sport Sunblock Spray, SPF 15
– Teeka Tan Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 30 Sport
– Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof/Waterproof Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30
The NY Times article put it best: “Children– as well as their parents and school authorities– have a lot to learn about protection against sun damage.” So, here goes some great reminders from the NYT:
– Short of remaining indoors, there are three main approaches to sun protection at any age: 1) wear clothing that blocks sun rays, 2) apply sunscreen every two hours, every day even if it is overcast, 3) stay out of the midday sun (10am to 4pm) and in the shade as much as possible.
– Don’t forget wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses with ultraviolet protection, or lip balm with SPF 15.
Now get out there and play, albeit safely.

Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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Wow–thanks for the info. The EWG’s Cosmetics Database is fantastic. You can see how particular brands (of makeup, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. as well as sunscreen) compare with each other for toxicity. Some mascaras and eyedrops even contain MERCURY!
From now on, I’m going check out how all the brands compare whenever I buy a new toiletry.