Time Out from Homeschooling Talk

October 22, 2007 @ 12:15 am | Filed under: Uncategorized

Just for a minute. Can we talk about sunscreen? One thing about living in San Diegoβ€”we are spending a lot more time in the sun than ever before. I’ve never been a sun worshipper. At our neighborhood pool in Virginia, I was the mom trying to squeeze myself into the bar of shade cast by the fencepost. In fact, I have friends who laughed hysterically when they heard I was moving to one of the world’s sunniest vacation spots. The climate, they feared, would be wasted on me.

What I didn’t realize about Southern California until living here was that, except for a few hard-baked weeks in the summer, sunny doesn’t necessarily mean hot. It’s balmy and breezy and just so darn pleasant. And so off we whisk to Balboa Park or Mission Trails, and the kindly sun beams down upon us.

Which means, of course, sunscreen is our new best friend. But I have to say I don’t entirely trust this friend. I once heard an oncologist say that if you use any sunscreen stronger than SPF 15, the chemicals are worse for your health than UV rays. I don’t know what kind of stats support that statement, but it’s always there in the back of my mind.

So what do you do? Chinaberry sells a "natural sunscreen" that’s supposed to be safer than most brands (it does not contain oxybenzone, whatever that is), but yeesh, the price tag! (Although when I went to get the URL just now I discovered they’re having an end-of-summer sunscreen sale, so there you go.)

In the summer the kids go through the stuff so quickly that I usually wind up opting for whatever’s on sale at Target. But ugh, that chemical smell, I can’t stand it. And what’s in that stuff? I seriously don’t trust it. For occasional use, fine, but for something they need to wear every day?

For myself, I seldom bother to do more than put an SPF 15 moisturizer on my face. I always forget about my arms…

I don’t wear makeup, but I’ve been looking at the SPF-containing mineral powders (like Bare Minerals) and wondering if they’re a better idea than the creams. But then I read that Bare Minerals contains bismuth, which sounds as sinister as oxybenzone. So I’m back to square one.

What brands do you use? For you, and for the kids? Do you use something
different for faces and bodies? Every day, or only in summer?


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Comments

22 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Speaking as an Australian:-)

    Our sunscreens are (or were, until very recently?) only allowed to be rated as high as 15+, aside from occasional imports.

    I’m guessing brands aren’t going to be much help from me, but I use a bog-standard, supermarket brand for faces and bodies. I do like the roll on one for applying to small wrigglers.

    We’ve had fairly extensive ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ campaigns as long as I can remember, so the slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat is pretty widespread. Kids widely wear rashies (long-sleeved) when swimming (not all, but lots) and shirts get put on when leaving the water. Hats are pretty consistently worn, and sunglasses are becaming more so (for kids as well). You can’t rely soley on sunscreen.

    I tend to get more slack over winter, depending on what we’re doing (although, I try to remember to be vigilent about it when we’re out between 10 and 2. Dh and my mil have both had melanomas removed… the kids have the skin for it). But my one year teaching phys ed. (_not_ my area at all!) I did wear it daily, because I was _out_ daily.

    Sunscreen goes all over, but anything that can have ‘other’ coverage, should!

  2. There is a website called EWG.com (or skin deep). This is the environmental work group. They have put a bit of work into looking at all of the chemicals in skin care products. They have a special section there that looks at the chemicals in sunscreens.

    Everything on there is rated by how well each chemical has been studied. You can search via chemical, product, or supplier. It is a pretty interesting site.

  3. I love the green tea sunscreen from Alba (http://www.albabotanica.com/?id=74). It smells like trendy perfume, not sunscreen. We use the Alba kids on my son, too.
    For my face, I prefer the Olay Complete, but oddly, that is not available where I live. I say oddly, because I live in China, where light skin is valued over darker skin. Despite women’s preference for lighter skin, sunscreen is not that popular. They’ll fork over more money for a whitening cream than for a preventative sunscreen cream.

  4. Here is the most thourough comparison of sunscreens that I have ever found. It even takes into consideration the potential dangers of nano-scale particles, as well as how well the “natural” products actually work.

  5. We live in a sunny climate (and for 8 months, sunny does mean hot). I don’t trust all that chemical stuff. We use sunscreens for swimming and the beach. Not for everyday wear. Figuring that God gave us the ability to tan for a reason. I have some fairer skinned children who need to wear hats when we are out in the sun and shirts when they swim. Unless we’ve been careless at the beach or pool, we don’t usually deal with sunburns. I would have expected that after 20 years in this area, I would have tanned to the color of my freckles, but I’m still pretty fair skinned myself. We prefer to cover up rather than slather up. And one isn’t supposed to use sunscreens on babies and toddlers need special stuff and then you have to remember it and reapply every so often. And you’re supposed to wash it off after a certain amount of time. I just don’t have that much brain power. I know that there’s a risk involved in life without sunscreen, but that risk we know. I just can’t imagine that chemicals soaking through one’s skin 325 days a year can be any better.

  6. In that climate we just tried to opt for coverage. We ordered rash guards from C Wear in Australia & had clothing from Tuga (I think that is its name). Floppy hats, long sleeves & pants greatly reduced our exposure without chemical sunscreens. Beyond the chemicals, these were so pricey for everyday use & frankly took quite a long time to apply each day (although I kept telling myself it beat putting them all in boots & snowsuits.

  7. Hats.

    Our eldest first went to the West Indies to visit her grandparents when she was five months old, and we went with all three to live there for seven months when our youngest was not quite two. So sunscreens were pretty much out of the question.

    Not to mention that with all that inning and outing with the pool and the beach, and my husband’s and my sweat making the sunscreen drip off, you spend more time reapplying than actually protected.

    My husband and I each have Tilley hats with broad brims, and the kids have a collection of baseball caps and also Tilley-style hats. The key seems to have been starting them out young, so they are used to having hats on in the sun πŸ™‚

    Oh, and remembering some very painful shoulder and back sunburns from my own childhood, I don’t let the kids wear tank tops in the summer or let the boys go shirtless (unless they’re in a pool) — at the very least, short sleeves.

  8. Hats.

    Our eldest first went to the West Indies to visit her grandparents when she was five months old, and we went with all three to live there for seven months when our youngest was not quite two. So sunscreens were pretty much out of the question.

    Not to mention that with all that inning and outing with the pool and the beach, and my husband’s and my sweat making the sunscreen drip off, you spend more time reapplying than actually protected.

    My husband and I each have Tilley hats with broad brims, and the kids have a collection of baseball caps and also Tilley-style hats. The key seems to have been starting them out young, so they are used to having hats on in the sun πŸ™‚

    Oh, and remembering some very painful shoulder and back sunburns from my own childhood, I don’t let the kids wear tank tops in the summer or let the boys go shirtless (unless they’re in a pool) — at the very least, short sleeves.

  9. Hats.

    Our eldest first went to the West Indies to visit her grandparents when she was five months old, and we went with all three to live there for seven months when our youngest was not quite two. So sunscreens were pretty much out of the question.

    Not to mention that with all that inning and outing with the pool and the beach, and my husband’s and my sweat making the sunscreen drip off, you spend more time reapplying than actually protected.

    My husband and I each have Tilley hats with broad brims, and the kids have a collection of baseball caps and also Tilley-style hats. The key seems to have been starting them out young, so they are used to having hats on in the sun πŸ™‚

    Oh, and remembering some very painful shoulder and back sunburns from my own childhood, I don’t let the kids wear tank tops in the summer or let the boys go shirtless (unless they’re in a pool) — at the very least, short sleeves.

  10. Hats.

    Our eldest first went to the West Indies to visit her grandparents when she was five months old, and we went with all three to live there for seven months when our youngest was not quite two. So sunscreens were pretty much out of the question.

    Not to mention that with all that inning and outing with the pool and the beach, and my husband’s and my sweat making the sunscreen drip off, you spend more time reapplying than actually protected.

    My husband and I each have Tilley hats with broad brims, and the kids have a collection of baseball caps and also Tilley-style hats. The key seems to have been starting them out young, so they are used to having hats on in the sun πŸ™‚

    Oh, and remembering some very painful shoulder and back sunburns from my own childhood, I don’t let the kids wear tank tops in the summer or let the boys go shirtless (unless they’re in a pool) — at the very least, short sleeves.

  11. Hats.

    Our eldest first went to the West Indies to visit her grandparents when she was five months old, and we went with all three to live there for seven months when our youngest was not quite two. So sunscreens were pretty much out of the question.

    Not to mention that with all that inning and outing with the pool and the beach, and my husband’s and my sweat making the sunscreen drip off, you spend more time reapplying than actually protected.

    My husband and I each have Tilley hats with broad brims, and the kids have a collection of baseball caps and also Tilley-style hats. The key seems to have been starting them out young, so they are used to having hats on in the sun πŸ™‚

    Oh, and remembering some very painful shoulder and back sunburns from my own childhood, I don’t let the kids wear tank tops in the summer or let the boys go shirtless (unless they’re in a pool) — at the very least, short sleeves.

  12. I think the sunscreen concern revolves around the idea that certain plastic-y chemicals soak into the skin and (are believed to) mimic estrogen. These chemicals tend to turn up in bodily fluids, but I’m not sure if anyone has established an empirical link. I would print up a list of these chemicals and bring it with you the next time you go to Trader Joe’s. I’m not sure if you’ll find what you’re looking for, but it is usually a good place to start.

    Or . . . maybe SPF-30 parasols will come into fashion in this country. I’d go for it. lol

  13. Badger sunscreen! It’s consistently ranked as one of the best broad-spectrum sunscreens because it blocks both UVA and UVB~ They rank really high with the EWG, too~

    It isn’t super cheap (I’ve found it for around $12 for ~3 oz…) but most people I know who have used it are hooked. You can probably find it at a WholeFoods or Henry’s near you.

  14. You don’t wear make-up? Wow, you look great in the photos. I’d look like a ghost! Who was it that said you were rockin’ like Cyndi Lauper? πŸ™‚

    We use the generic Target pink baby sunscreen.

    Also-I always wear sunglasses to shield around my eyes from sun damage because sunscreen bothers my eyes.

  15. I always wear sunglasses too, because my eyes are so durn light-sensitive.

    I haven’t worn makeup since college (except for rare occasions like, oh, say, my wedding–stopped wearing it the day I showed up late for a class, sans makeup, and Scott was all “Wow, you look GREAT!” LOL.

    However, I have recently rediscovered the joys of lip gloss! πŸ˜‰ And I do keep a special-occasions tube of mascara around, just in case…

  16. We live in San Diego too and I really don’t do anything special unless we are at the beach. We drink plenty of water and use aloe on exposed skin in the morning and at night if we’re planning on being out and about a lot. I’m fairly dark skinned, so even at the beach all I use is aloe to keep my skin moisturized, on my kids I use NOAD spf 15 2x and keep them hydrated. My baby stays in the shade during the peak hours. I read about the Egyptians using aloe to protect against and treat burns and it seems to work for me, I love using a plant instead of chemicals. And from a medical standpoint (grandpa the doctor’s info here) staying hydrated protects your skin by keeping your body in good working order.

  17. re: Parasols.

    I live in South China. Some people just carry their umbrellas even on sunny days, and some women actually use parasols.

  18. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who would prefer hats and sleeves to sunscreen. I don’t admit to my friends that I don’t use sunscreen on my daughter (except on rare occasions)

  19. It’s so hard to discern what’s best, sunscreen (which may be carcinogenic) or the sun (which definately is, supposedly!). Since we live in Maine, where we only have a few months of hot waether, I usually only put sunscreen on in the summer. I love the new quick spray stuff- it’s alcohol based, which is probably not the best, but it is SO easy to appply. We have a family history of Melanoma. so I always feel better getting the highest number possible. which may not be the beat either. We’re heading into about 5 months of COLD weether, so sunscreen is not really in the front of my mind right now, but it should be because snow glare makes the sun very dangerous.

  20. Banana Boat makes one that actually smells good, and it feels less disgusting than most do, as well. I hate both the smell and the feel of typical sunscreen, and it actually makes me stay inside more than I would prefer. Going without it is unwise during Colorado summers.

  21. Alba also makes an everyday skin lotion that is SPF 17. It feels much more like a regular skin lotion than a sunscreen. I think California has a lotion with SPF 15 as well. These are “natural” brands.

    We have many many Hmong refugees living here, and they carry regular umbrellas during the summer, for the sun protection, especially at long sporting events.

  22. […] pal Caryn wrote today, looking for a post I wrote a while back about my struggle with the question of daily sunscreen use. What’s worse, I wondered (and still do): the chemicals seeping into our skin, day after day […]