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Welcome to Dupage Mamas! This blog is a place for Mamas to connect, share their experiences, and recommend great finds and ideas (or let us learn from your mistakes!) If you are raising kids in Dupage County, then we'd love to have you along for the adventure!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Which Sunscreen?

Its a sign of the times that I'm asking "which" not "if." When I was a kid - not that long ago, really - sunbathers laid on the tanning oils before laying out. Now, we don't even play outside without SPF 30. Its not a question of "if" we wear sunscreen, its a question of "which" sunscreen will provide the most protection and do the least harm.

According to the Environmental Working Group, three out of five sunscreens don't work: either they provide ineffective sun protection or they're full of dangers materials. During this brief window of non-winter-weather in Illinois, my boys and I are chomping at the bit to get out of our small condo and into the sun. Slathering them up each day is one of my least favorite chores. They're squirmy, screaming, eager to get out. If I'm going to go through all this work, I want it to be helping them.

I looked up the brand we use on EWG's helpful Sunscreen guide, a list of 660 available sunscreens they've tested and how they scored. Or at least, I tried to. Scrolling down the list of products I've never heard of (sorted by top scorers first) I was down to 200 before I gave up. That can't be good. I finally just used the search function to find it, and am frankly too discouraged to even report what they had to say. Well, at least I know what to buy next time.

Or do I? My kids and I have been all over in our mainstream-brand sunscreen, and frankly, so have most of the people I know. You name it - the zoo, the beach, the pool, mid-day, all day, Illinois, California. And we've never burned with it on or even close. So its doing the job I'm trusting it to. And I can both find and afford it.

Don't let my discouragement stop you. I would recommend checking out EWG's Sunscreen Guide for yourself - its an interesting education if nothing else. But I highly recommend their Shopper's Guide. This one lists the "best easily found" sunscreens, as well as information to be aware of when choosing and using sunscreen. This guide is helpful and not overwhelming. I really will choose one of these the next time sunscreen is on my list.

So here's to safety in the sun! Do any of you actually still use tanning oil? Do you slather your kids but not yourself? Do you wear SPF 50 even in the winter? What have you found works for you?


TwoSquareMeals July 16, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

So what are you buying? Calvin had a reaction to a name brand sunscreen, so now I am looking into them. I had never really worried about it before. Now I am overwhelmed. Is this one of those things to just let go and assume that the known effects of skin cancer are worse than the unproven effects of sunscreens? As much as we use it with the pool, we can't afford the expensive stuff.

Catherine July 16, 2009 at 1:55 PM  

I think that this is a case of known effects of sun outweighing the unknown of sunscreen...hands down.

If you look through EWG's stuff for long, you'll find that they've damned shampoo, soap, toothpaste...everything. So after a crisis moment with them about two years ago I've decided to live a fairly normal life in regards to these types of products, while being educated about SIMPLE ways that I can make SLIGHT improvements to my choices.

There are a few on the "easy to find" list on their shoppers guide which are name brand and affordable...I think I'll stick to those. Improvement without excess.

Plus, sites like EWG have to make money just like all reporting agencies, so....

Atwood-Family of 4 July 16, 2009 at 2:00 PM  

Thanks for this list Cath-we need some new sunscreen so I was able to pick the "best" of what we want-safe for kids and babies, certain SPF, in a spray form and affordable. I found one that was a 4 that met all those criteria. Very pleased to be informed and able to pick the "best" out of what we need. Thanks again!

Mommy of Wonder Twins,  July 21, 2009 at 11:25 PM  

Blue Lizard for Babies hands-down! I have a very fair little one and we spent several days in the hot Orlando sun (100F +), on black asphalt, all day long, and not even a little pink. Same for her fair skinned daddy. It can be purchased at and Buy Buy Baby (use your current Bed Bath and Beyond coupons)for discounted prices. And it is WELL WORTH the initial cost, because you don't need to reapply (if applied correctly the first time) like the cheaper brands. So the "less expensive" brands really aren't less expensive in the long run. Plus, it's safe! I recommend using it on baby/child only, if you can't afford it for the entire family.

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