Sun Protection For Your Family

Decoding the Latest in Sun Screen Recommendations

Finding the best way to keep your family safe from the sun’s rays can be a challenge.

Parental Guide has chatted with some leading experts to help you decipher the ins and outs of sun protection so that you can make the best choices for your family.

Protecting children from too much sun exposure is imperative, said Anne Neeb, APNP, Urgent Care, Aurora Health Care.

Children do not know when their skin is getting burned or when they last put sunscreen on. So it’s up to parents and guardians to be watchdogs.

One of the easiest ways to protect the skin is with clothing that blocks out the sun. Clothing with thick weaves protect your skin the best. To determine if it's thick, hold the clothing up to the light, the less light that comes through the better protection for your skin.

Another option is broad-spectrum sun protective clothing for kids. There are pieces, like those from Tuga Sunwear, that are made of material that is designed to provide protection from UVA and UVB rays. Functional, fashionable wear that block more than 97 percent of the UV rays is a quick fix for skin protection – and no one has to worry about reapplying.

“We really recommend protective clothing. I see a lot more kid-friendly options out there with hats and rash guards for children. It’s water proof and it can block out a lot of the harmful rays, you don’t have to worry about applying and reapplying and is something that we recommend as the first line of defense,” advised Sonya Lunder, MPH, senior analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG).

EWG is a leading consumer advocacy group that tests and tracks a variety of products, including sunscreen, to help decipher which products are most environmentally-sound and effective with the least amount of impact on your well-being.

Their website, www.ewg.org, lists almost every sun block/sun screen ever created and provides a protective rating based on feasibility, protection and safety. The Environmental Working Group has a helpful app called the “EWG Sunscreen Buyer's Guide” that you can download. This app is a great tool to help you sort through all the sunscreen options while shopping.

This year EWG recommends one in five of more than 600 beach and sport sunscreens, compared to one in 12 last year. Nearly 90 brands, including CVS, Neutrogena, Banana Boat, Walgreens and Aveeno now offer sunscreens with zinc and titanium.

Currently, there are no clear guidelines on labels. That, however, will change in 2012 with the addition of new FDA guidelines. The new guidelines will ensure that manufacturers more accurately list if their products are truly broad spectrum (protect against UVA and UVB rays) – and only those that are broad spectrum can have claims that they protect against skin cancer.

According to the FDA’s website, prior rules on sunscreens dealt almost exclusively with protection against only ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from the sun, and did not address skin cancer and early skin aging caused by ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.

Additional changes include omitting the claim that sunscreen is waterproof and that there will be no sunscreen protection ranked above a 50 SPF (sun protection factor).

“You can’t necessarily trust the claims on the labels for all-day protection, sun proof and water proof. The bottles don’t really have the right information on the outside as what’s on the inside,” said Lunder. Future sun screen bottles will better explain what’s on the inside.

One area of particular concern is new data that links the common sunscreen ingredient, a form of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate, to accelerated growth of skin tumors and lesions. It’s something you want to try to avoid.

The other major ingredient to avoid is oxybenzone, which is a hormone disrupter and soaks through to the skin.

Instead, look for sunblocks that have Zinc and titanium products that cover a broad spectrum of UVA and UVB rays.

Staying informed on the latest data can help parents make more educated decisions.

“We suggest people come to our website and look at detailed information they are purchasing and may be purchasing, not only looking at active but also inactive ingredients,” said Lunder. “There is a lot more awareness on the part of parents than there ever has been in the past.”

So get out and have fun, just be wise in your attire and sun protection. With proper clothing, hats and shade, the great outdoors can be enjoyed.

What to look for on the sunscreen label

  • Zinc or titanium
  • Liquid sunblocks/sunscreens

Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid

  • Retinyl Palmitate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC)
  • Benzophenone-3 (oxybenzone)
  • Benzylidene camphor
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • Padimate O

Sampling of Suggested Sunscreens

Below is just a sample of some of the safer sunscreens as suggested by EWG in 2011.

For a complete list please visit www.ewg.org.

• Loving Naturals Sunscreen Stick, SPF +30
• Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sport Stick Unscented Sunscreen, SPF 30
• Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick, SPF 50
• Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick, SPF 50
• Badger Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30+; Face Stick, Unscented SPF 30+
• Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive and Sunscreen Baby, SPF 30+
• Earth's Best: Sunblock Mineral Based, SPF 30+
• TruKids New Sunny Days Mineral All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
• Tropical Sands All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 50
• Vanicream Sunscreen Sport, SPF 35

The articles on our site do not dispense medical, legal or professional advice, nor do they prescribe any treatment or strategy that should be tested without the advice of a professional. Information presented on this site is for educational or entertainment purposes only. You are responsible for your own actions should you use any information found on this site.

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