Updated Sunscreen Recommendations for 2012

Every year the Environmental Working Group releases it's annual report on safe sunscreens. It's worth checking out, both for advice on using sunscreen properly and to find products that don't contain harmful chemicals but do provide adequate sun protection. You might be surprised to learn that some big brands aren't as great as you assumed.

Eilan enjoys the sun at Aulani Resort in Hawaii
Eilan enjoys the sun at Aulani Resort in Hawaii

Here are a few tips I've learned over the years

  • Sunscreens expire, and many have an expiration date stamped on the bottom. If there's no date, plan to use it within three years. A good way to remember is to write the year on each tube when you get it. (Sharpie works well, and you'll want to add your name too)
  • You need more than you think! For an adult, 1 ounce (think shot-glass-size) would cover all exposed parts of the body. For kids, half that much would be about right.
  • High SPF and waterproof formulas don't necessarily last longer. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and every time you get out of the water.
  • Spray and Powder sunscreens are touted for kids because they're so easy to apply, but there are serious concerns about their safety for young lungs. The old-fashioned goopy white stuff is still the best way to go.
  • Cold sunscreen on a warm body sends my kids running. I squeeze out some lotion, rub it in my hands to warm it, and then slater it on.
  • It's hard to get kids to sit still for lotion while everyone else is running in the sun. One trick is to hand over a stick of chewing gum. By the time the flavor is gone, you'll be done rubbing in sunscreen.

Product Recommendations

  • Vanicream Sunscreen. This has been my go-to sun protection for years. It works well on Everest's sensitive skin and is easy to rub in. It doesn't leave a white residue, so I use it on my own skin too.
  • Faces are tricky, and I like to use a stick since it's less likely to end up in my kids' eyes. Aveeno Sun Natural Protection Baby SPF 50 Stick provides good quality sun protection, though it does leave some whiteness. The small size makes it easy to keep in my purse or pocket every day.
  • Sunscreen is only one part of sun protection for more recommendations, from clothing to sunshades, check out my post on sun protection for your child

Disclosure: I have not been paid to recommend any of the products in this post. If you purchase a product through one of my Amazon links, I do receive a small commission, and that income helps me keep this site going.

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  1. Meagan on May 21, 2012 at 3:47 p.m.

    We use California Baby. From reading reviews it seemed like the best balance of gentle for an eczema baby and not so icky that he'd refuse to have it on him. The down side is I could only find spf 30 (I wanted 45). So far though we've had lots of sun, no burns (or noticible tan), ge lets me apply it (not happily, but he's a year old, so duh) and there have been no skin reactions. My husband and I use it too so we only have to carry one bottle, and while it's a little greasier than the brands that advertize "no greasy feeling!" it's not too bad at all. It DOES leave a white residue that makes me look like I'm wearing foundation but no blush, and turns my husband's redhead complexion a weird purple. It makes my baby look like Casper.