Let me tell you about my relationship with the sun and how it’s changed. First, let’s start with my complexion. It’s fair, freckly, and almost allergic to the sun. It’s basically the worse case scenario for a teenage girl who had a BFF who browned up beautifully after 15 minutes of sun at her grandparents’ beach house. I hate her. (Kidding, love you! xoxo)
The result was year after year of truly tragic sunburns. During my junior year in high school my parents let me wear a bikini for the first time in my teen life over a warm May weekend. I was thrilled, but my pasty abdomen was terrified.
I’m not sure if we went as far as to hit the baby oil, but I can tell you, with certainty that we did NOT reach for anything with SPF. The next week, finals week, I basically shivered through school while my skin turned gray. I can remember my lips being swollen and losing my breath when the sun touched me as I walked home. Looking back, I probably needed medical attention. It was bad!
Thankfully those days are long gone, but the lasting effect was a true hatred of sunburns. Besides, when you know better, you do better. Back then no one was concerned about skin cancer. Now it’s on my radar, especially living at the beach and spending so much time outdoors.
Last spring, a friend and I were talking about stocking up on summer necessities when the EWG sunscreen safety index came up. I had never heard of it.
EWG stands for the Environmental Working Group and, among other things, they evaluate sunscreens and rank them according to their ingredients. The lower the score, the safer the product. I got right to searching and subsequently cringing.
For years we were dedicated to a certain brand of sunscreen that worked really well and passed this family’s test for not being too sticky. The bummer is how bad it was for our family. It was firmly on the EWG’s Hall of Shame list, which made me feel…well…shameful.
The amount of sunscreen we go through during a summer is no joke. We HAD to find better products.
I threw this topic out to my local friends and they recommended their favorites.
We started with BabyGanics Mineral-Based Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50. Yes, baby sunscreen. Our whole family used it and loved it.
It’s thick and takes a bit of rubbing in, but it doesn’t feel sticky and absorbs fully, so you’re not walking around looking like a snowman. BabyGanics received a score of two from the EWG.
We also loved the BabyGanics spray for easy reapplication at the beach or pool. It’s a thin liquid that requires some rubbing, but it absorbs quickly. In our experience it doesn’t last as long as lotion, but the convenience factor is worth the extra applications throughout the day.
Last, our dermatologist recommended Blue Lizard Sensitive. It scores a one from the EWG but has almost zero scent. If you’ve got a little one (or big one!) with skin not only sensitive to ingredients, but also fragrance, this one is for you! The other super cool thing about Blue Lizard is that the bottle changes color to blue when there’s enough UV rays to warrant applying sunscreen.
Of course sun protection only works if you use it correctly. For a list of sunscreen mistakes many families make and how to avoid them, click here.
Do you have a favorite sunscreen? Share it with us!
Want to read more? Check out the latest on the Myrtle Beach for Families blog.