There’s more sunscreens to choose from than ever before. But, also, there’s more research and information on how they work, their chemicals, and which ones are more effective. In this SMG article, we point you toward the newest research and sunscreen lists to protect your family from the sun.
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Should You Choose a Higher SPF?
Environmental Working Group has these guidelines:
Products with high sun protection factor, or SPF, tempt people to apply too little sunscreen and stay in the sun too long. The FDA has proposed prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with SPF values greater than 60+ and have called higher SPF values “inherently misleading,” but the agency has not yet issued a regulation that carries the force of law.
The basic advice that we follow here at SMG is to limit time in the sun, re-apply sunscreen, and choose a sunscreen with 40+ SPF. Also, just because you find a sunscreen with high SPF, that doesn’t mean you should stay out in the sun longer.
Use Common-Sense Sunscreens
These aren’t the sprays or liquids. We’re talking wearing clothes and hat that cover the skin. Use an umbrella when walking or out at play. Find shade from a building or tree. And make sure you and the little ones wear sunglasses. None of these require chemicals or sunscreens, just plain common sun protection sense.
Plan Around the Sun
Use your preferred weather app to check the UV index to avoid sunburn. The mornings and late afternoons and early evenings still have sunshine but generally a low UV index — plan your outdoor time during these hours to lessen the chance of a sunburn.
Choose Sunscreens With Less Harmful Chemicals
Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a well-researched annual sunscreen guide that helps you find sunscreens that are less toxic and have more of the good stuff. Here’s a list of the Best Scoring Kids Sunscreens from EWG’s 2019 guide. You can get on the organization’s mailing list to be notified of the new guide every year.
In general, avoid any sunscreens with Vitamin A, oxybenzone, and octinoxate.
Ingredients with less toxicity include zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and avobenzone. European sunscreens are also better at blocking UVA rays.
(This post is updated from the original posted on 6/22/18.)