The IssueTo exemplify the problem with cosmetics in the U.S., I wanted to talk a bit about sunscreen. All of you moms, sun-lovers, & sensitive-skin types will agree that this is especially important. Now, you'd think that the supposedly "#1 Pediatrician Recommended Brand" would be a safe bet. Well, that's because we are all being mislead by labels on packaging with catch phrases that may or may not be completely true.
I bought and have been using Coppertone WaterBabies QuickCover Lotion Spray SPF 50 for Gianna, along with a couple of others, but we'll just look the CWB one for now. Click the sunscreen name to see it's safety rating, keeping in mind that the label promotes it as #1 Pediatrician Recommended Brand-- you'll see that it has a very high hazard score! You can click HERE to see check out the study that the EWG (Environmental Working Group) did on sunscreens, and find links to their recommended brands, and the ones they say we should avoid (like Exhibit A, above).
A Few Product Suggestions In case you're wondering, I've bought a couple of the Alba Botanica Sun products to try out for now (Aloe Vanilla Mineral Sunscreen SPF 18, which scores a 3 (moderate), and the Kids Sunscreen SPF 32 Water Resistant (I entered this one in the database so its score is not verified yet, but similar ones were rated moderate). These are okay products according the safety ratings, although they do supposedly have the most important factors which are both UVA/UVB protection, paraben free, and the Aloe one does not contain ultra-fine nanoparticles (which is something to look out for). **UPDATE (6/10/08)** We tried out the new sunscreen today. They both worked great for a long walk and a dip in the pool. The Mineral SPF 18 goes on pretty thick & white but that is the price you pay for no nanoparticles sinking into your skin. The Kids' SPF 32 one rubbed in nicely and protected Gigi great. My only caveat with the 18 is be careful with your clothes- it got all over the edges of my black swimsuit & blank tank top. I'm going to either have to be more careful, or put it on before my clothes. :) The 32 didn't seem to have that problem, probably because it's not a mineral sunscreen.
Dr. Greene, author of Raising Baby Green, uses Baby Avalon Natural sunscreen (I chose to try the Alba Sun ones first because they were on sale!), but what I really want to try is any of the California Baby sunscreens, which are a little more widely available (Target, Babies 'r' us ( so I heard), diapers.com, etc.) and score very low on the hazard rating. However, apparently everyone else wants to try them too, because they are currently unavailable everywhere, even directly from California Baby. But I will definitely try them out when they come back to the shelf.
**UPDATE (10/26/09)** We love the California Baby sunscreen. While it is a little hard to rub in, it works great and is extremely low on the hazard scale. Lately though, I've been going with Blue Lizard Sensitive, which can be found at CVS for around $10. It rubs in a little better than California Baby and is a little cheaper, while only being slightly higher on the Skin Deep scale (a 2 vs. a 1).
It's hard to just throw away products that you spent money on, and I haven't completely done this yet with stuff I use on myself, but with sunscreen I felt that it was worthwhile-- they are supposed to protect us from skin cancer, but are they inadvertently exposing us to other forms of cancer, or other medical conditions? A friend of mine told me that she just did the same thing and her husband pointed out, okay, so we're throwing away like $35 in sunscreen. Is that $35 really going to matter down the road if we're exposing our daughter to dangerous stuff? And to quote my "#1 research assistant" & friend Sarah, you either "pay now or pay later."
Side note: EWG also did a study on children's personal care products which has a handy printable guide with recommendations & buying guidelines. See it HERE. If you are a little skeptical of this, read this article from Fox News.