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Take the test: Is your child's sunscreen harmful?


  c. Darby Herrington

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that sunscreen be used liberally on all children over 6 months of age, many sunscreens can actually be harmful to a child's health.  While there are other ways to protect children from the sun, many parents rely on sunscreen during the summer months.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a helpful guide for people to determine which sunscreens are the safest and which are the most hazardous to one's health.  EWG's website scores 1,435 different types of sunscreen on a scale of 1-10:  1 being the least harmful and 10 being the worst. 

The BEST beach and sport sunscreens - the kinds typically marketed for children and babies - consist mostly of brands that can be difficult to find in many stores and retailers.  Brands such as Alba Botanica, All Terrain, Bull Frog, Burn Out, California Baby, Doctor T's Supergoop, Elemental Herbs, Heiko, Loving Naturals, Sweetsation and Trukid are among the safest sunscreens.  Name brands such as Coppertone, Blue Lizard and Johnson & Johnson have one or two types of sunscreen that are safer than most.  For a comprehensive list of the best and safest sunscreens, visit EWG's BEST list.

The WORST beach and sport sunscreens, as reported by EWG, are surprisingly some of the most recognizable brands carried by mainstream stores and retailers.  Likely to be of major concern to many parents, Banana Boat Baby, Aveeno Baby, Hawaiian Tropic Baby and Panama Jack Baby are major players in EWG's sunscreen Hall of Shame.  EWG breaks the facts down for consumers and describes how certain sunscreens are deficient in their claims of "broad spectrum protection" and "advanced UVA protection", as well as their potentially harmful ingredients.  Some of these sunscreens contain a chemical called Oxybenzone, about which EWG explains:

Oxybenzone is readily absorbed through the skin; government studies have detected the compound in 97 percent of the population (Calafat 2008). In rodents, it mimics estrogen and increases the weight of the uterus (Schlumpf 2004). In people, higher maternal exposures to oxybenzone have been linked to decreased birth weight in girls (Wolff 2008).

[There are] at least 26 sunscreens offered in the 2010 season with the word “baby” in their name and the chemical oxybenzone on their ingredient list. EWG advises consumers to avoid sunscreens containing oxybenzone. Plenty of safer products are available.

TAKE THE TEST:  Find out how your baby or child's sunscreen rates on EWG's scale by visiting HERE and entering the requested information.  It takes seconds to do and may prompt you to toss yours in the trash and head to the store for a safer product. 

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Copyright ©2010 by E. Darby Herrington.  All rights reserved.


  • J9 4 years ago

    Extremely useful information! Thanks for putting it out there.

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