The Sun! The Sun! How to Avoid those Rays??? The Chemical and Mineral of it All.

My focus this summer has been the sun.  My kids are to an age where we’re roaming around outside quite a bit now. At just under two years old, my toddlers are at the ripe age where routine and expectations can be ground into them quite easily.  Ok,  not easily.  Generally with lots of screaming, time-outs, biting, and banging heads against the wall.  That last one is generally just me. My head.  Thinking, “Is this lesson really worth this effort???” Anyway. Sunscreens are the topic of choice on this day of head banging.

*When it comes to sunscreens, the rays we mostly worry about are UVA and UVB.  And there are other rays too.  Ray Romano is one. But I’m not sure he has much to do on this topic. Maybe though.  I haven’t researched his stance.

I always forget which ray is which. UVA = A good tan! UVB for Burn. UVBurn. UVA rays are the tanning rays. UVBurn are the shorter rays that are predominantly the sunBurn rays. Together they make up the so- called “broad spectrum” that you see on sunscreen bottles. SPF numbers usually only refer to UVBurn rays. Since these are the burning rays we as consumers  were really only concerned about. If we got a burn then it was a bad product. Crank up the SPF = block the burning rays (UVB) = happy customers. BUT UVA (longer, tanning rays) create more problems over time (cancer, wrinkles…). But I recently read that they believe the various cancers forms are caused by both UVA and UVB rays.

Another Ideal way to Avoid the Sun -Wait till it Rains.

The Environmental Working Group states it this way, “The problem is that overexposure to UVA can damage to skin. UVA light is associated with immune suppression, skin aging and even cancer. But unlike with a sunburn, you don’t get an immediate signal that you’ve had too much sun, so these subtle damages can accumulate over years.”

Increasing your carrot intake is another way to fight off those rays. I think that’s a direct quote from the FDA or ACS or someone important.

Another factor that was new to me was the chemical versus the physical active ingredients used in sunscreens. Chemical ingredients are absorbed into the skin whereas physical ingredients stay on top on the skin. Many of the chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone, don’t block both UVA and UVB equally, and is a hormone disrupter.
The two main physical ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (though I think there are a couple others). They stay on the skin and are more true “broad spectrum” ingredients.

I’m not a researcher.  This is just a basic investigation I’ve done, mostly through EWG and a couple other random sites.  It’s a frustrating process to have to do so much research on products that seem so important to our health. The FDA is catching up to the demands of customers, but we still have to do the legwork to get them to really put the pressure on companies.  The problem with these physical or mineral products is that most of them are very white when you apply them. You really have to rub them in. I’ve listed below the few that I’ve tried and my opinion on them.  If you go on to Amazon and look at reviews of almost any product someone loves it and someone hates it. This is my opinion and how they work for me. Also, EWG rates products 1-5. 1 is the best.  5 is Bad – gives you cancer and sucks your brains out while allowing worms to crawl in the holes burned by the sun and hormone disrupter chemicals (or something like that). The products I’ve listed below are either 1s or 2s.

–My daily lotion is DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30 . It goes on easy, doesn’t have a greasy feel, no white residue and feels light. It’s rated a 1 on EWG.

Badger Baby Sunscreen SPF 30 is good, but pretty greasy, goopy (almost chunky), thick and you really need to rub it in.  Great for a day at the beach as I feel it has the best water-resistants.  Nothing is waterproof any more though.  I think it’s technically against the law to claim that on sunscreens now. My pediatrician recommended this one for my son since he was reacting (red rash on his face) to other traditional products. Though my son hasn’t had a bad reaction (other than pitching a fit) to any of the products I’ve listed.

Alba Botanica Natural Very Emollient Sunscreen Mineral Protection is good but thick.  They all are really.  That’s the mineral concept.  The whiteness goes away as you rub it in, but it’s an excessive pain with babies. At least it is with mine, as I’m chasing them trying to blop it on any exposed piece of skin, and they’re screaming at me and shmearing it all over their clothes and the dog. This one is water resistant to 40 minutes.  It’s not as greasy as the Badger.

Keys Solar Rx Moisturizer with Sunscreen (SPF 30).  This is pretty decent too. It’s thick, though not as thick as Alba, but thicker than the daily DeVita that I use.  I’ve been doing this as a daily for the kid’s faces. This one doesn’t claim any water resistance.

The Ultimate in Sun Protection – Hats, Sunglasses and Outdoor Piano

When I’ve brought this topic up to other moms, you’ll always get the person that says that hats and long sleeves are the best and only protection.  I’ve not told them this to their face but, “duh.” That’s not the point here. Sunscreens aren’t ideal, and I often opt for a day at the museum just to avoid putting sunscreen on the kids. But through a couple of tough battles, by babies now know that when they’re outside they at least must have a hat on. They know this. It’s part of the routine. But so are sunscreens. Rather, the battle of the sunscreens is the routine. I hope we can instill the value and beauty of a healthy, paler glow, rather than what I was influenced by as a youth.

*I should note that I’m writing this as a way to get what I remember onto paper.  This is by no means 100% accurate and I highly encourage anyone curious to do some of your own research and to realize that the “facts” on this topic change often as new research comes to light.  I also encourage you to comment if you have a great tid-bit to contribute or an awesome product to share.

Adrienne is a  SAHM, wife, teacher on a break, and loves her amazing, medically challenged dog. She is always looking for activities to do with (and without) her fantastic toddlers.  She is working on a new blog as a way to help her remember the heart warming experiences that her babies show her everyday. EVERYday.