Be Sunblock Savvy

In my earlier post I talk about the details on how to interpret sunblock (and bug spray) ingredients and labels.  But here is the quick and dirty. Look for active ingredients that have zinc oxide (the same ingredient in diaper creams, so if safe for a newborn, then probably safe for a 4 month old spending a day out at the beach, benefit >>>>>> risk).  Zinc oxide covers both UVA and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide is good too, it’s in a lot of make up products, and it covers UVA only. Look for SPF30-50. There you have it, ingredient intelligence > brand loyalty.


If you wanted some examples of products, here are a few divided up by ingredients. Some brands like ThinkBaby only have products that have the same ingredient – zinc oxide 20%. Other brands like Aveeno have many different formulations, so check the ingredient list to make sure you purchase the correct one. 

Sunblocks containing zinc oxide only

Sunblocks containing zinc oxide + titanium dioxide

At the end of the day, however, any sunblock is better than no sunblock. Lotion sunblock with other ingredient is better than spray-on or no sunblock. And spray-on sunblock is better than no sunblock. While spray-on sunblocks are not recommended because kids can inhale the aerosol chemicals which can potentially irritate their lungs, parents also have to consider that it is not very practical to hold down a school age kid or teen to lather them down with white pasty cream (the consistency of zinc oxide). However, keep in mind that the spray on sunblocks still need to be rubbed in to optimize coverage (the aerosol doesn’t land evenly on skin and can leave vulnerable areas to sunburn), and the inhalation risk can be minimized by spraying into the hands first and then applying like lotion. 

To be honest, when my kids are at the beach more than a couple hours, I reapply with the spray because it’s just easier to spread on gritty sand covered skin. My choice for that is just the Target brand – check out this post on the benefits of buying generics and other tips on saving money.

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