Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Safe Sunscreens, According to the Environmental Working Group

I can't believe how much effort I'm putting into finding the perfect sunscreen this year. I want it to be chemical-free, easy to put on (I have a very squirmy little girl who hates standing still for sunscreen application, especially when there's a beach in sight!), and fragrance-free or with just a light scent (because I get migraines).

I consulted the Environmental Working Group's 2010 Cosmetics Safety Database for their sunscreen testing results (they tested more than 400 beach and sport sunscreens and recommend only 39 of them). It was hard tracking down each of the sunscreens online to find reviews and purchasing info, though. Then, once I found each of them, I found mixed reviews on all of them. There were very few with overwhelmingly positive reviews, and every one of them had some down-sides (generally that the non-chemical sunscreens are harder to apply, tacky, and leave your skin white).

Now that I've done my homework, I'll pass the links and summaries onto you in an easy-to-click list so you can save some time.

Here are some of the top beach and sport sunscreens rated by EWG:

All Terrain: Bad reviews-- see for yourself. People say it just doesn't work.

Badger: 4 stars on Amazon. Main complaints are that it's greasy and hard to apply. The link takes you to the unscented version, but there are also scented versions if you do an Amazon search for "Badger suncreen."

California Baby: 4 1/2 stars on Amazon. This is the green tea "aromatherapy" one; you can search Amazon for other types.

Caribbean Solutions: 4 1/2 stars on Amazon. Most of the people who mentioned the scent said it was a nice scent, but one said, "It soaks in fast, but has a bit of an artificial flowery smell to it."

Desert Essence Age Reversal: No reviews yet on Amazon, but I found 8 reviews on Viewpoints, where it rates 4.12 out of 5. One reviewer complains that it burned her eyes.

Episencial: 4 1/2 stars on Amazon, but only 3 reviews, so I checked Drugstore.com and got confused-- the reviews contradict each other, with some saying it's smooth and easy to rub in, and others saying the opposite; and with some saying it's water-resistant and others saying it's not.

Estion: I had a hard time tracking this one down. It seems to be out of stock most places. The link takes you to the SkinCareRx shop, where it's backordered, but has positive reviews.

Jason Sunbrellas: The two reviews on Amazon are positive, except that one reviewer says it stings if it gets in your eyes. The 10 reviews on Drugstore.com are more mixed, repeating the eye-stinging problem, but also saying it's gritty.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios: 3 1/2 stars. Reviewers say it's thick, white, and oily.

Loving Naturals: Very mixed reviews, with many saying it's greasy or oily, and some saying it doesn't work.

Soleo Organics: 3 1/2 stars on Amazon, with the most common complaint being that it's greasy.

ThinkBaby and ThinkSport: They're sold out all over at the moment. Our friends at Zrecs.com give this product a hearty thumbs-up, but as you can see in the comments, not everyone agrees.

TruKid Sunny Days: This is the only one on the list with a 5-star rating on Amazon (8 reviews). Reviewers say that, comparatively speaking,it goes on easily and has a light citrus scent.

UV Natural: Mixed reviews, with the most common complaints about poor performance and stickiness.

Vanicream Sunscreen Sport 4 1/2 stars, with the only real complaint about the fact that it goes on thickly.


For the curious, I ordered TruKid.

Edited to add: And I love it. Goes on easily, the whiteness fades quickly, and it works well. The only downside is cost-- the tube is very small and lasted us less than two weeks for just one little girl. I ordered two more tubes.


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