Safe Sunscreens Without All the Chemicals That Can Irritate Eczema and Sensitive Skin

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If you're going to be out in the sun for a prolonged period, it's important to wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn.

It's important to help our kids avoid skin damage since even as few as 5 sunburns put us at greater risk for skin cancer later in life. 

But you're probably wondering about all the chemicals in them. 

Are they safe? Especially for babies and kids? 

The Environmental Working Group reports that at least a quarter of the sunscreens they tested would have been effective without adding harmful chemicals

While you want great protection, you don't want tons of unnecessary chemicals or chemicals that offer protection but aren't safe for kids.

While sprays from Banana Boat, Neutrogena, and other common brands are easier they're really not the best option.

Banana Boat Sport sunscreen is probably one of the worst offenders! Disliked by dermatologists for sure!

Natural sunscreens are better but more likely to be sticky and difficult to apply especially if you're in a rush to get it on before the kids are running for the water!

If your child has eczema or sensitive skin, you can waste a ton of money on natural sunscreens that end up causing redness, burning, or a flare-up.

So, to help take the hassle out of buying a safe, effective sunscreen, I've put together guidelines to look for when buying one. 

You'll also find a list of my favorite, natural sunscreens that work for most sensitive kids to simplify your sunscreen purchase. 

Guidelines for Choosing a Safe Sunscreen

1. Absolutely Avoid Aerosolized Sprays

The FDA has cautioned these sprays may not be safe or effective for different reasons but we can sum up the worst of it pretty simply: droplets of sunscreen could push chemicals deep into the lungs where they could irritate lung tissue or pass into the bloodstream.

The FDA also says it lacks data to prove that spays provide the coverage needed to be effective on dry skin- let alone slippery, wet, just-out-of-the-pool skin.

2. Opt for Mineral Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, sit on the skin and act as a shield, providing a physical barrier and deflecting the sun’s rays.

Based on existing test data, the FDA recognizes only these two ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as both safe and effective.

Sunscreen products made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide meet rigorous standards for effectiveness and safety.

3. Choose "Non-micronized" Sunscreens 

Most sunscreens are made by grinding Zinc oxide into smaller and smaller particles. You want the particles to be small enough to spread without being cakey, but large enough to provide adequate coverage since each particle fans out and reflects UVA/UVB light.

The problem arises when the Zinc oxide particles are ground together during the creation of the main powder base.

When they do this by 'micronization' they actually grind up some of the particles so small (nano-particles) that they absorb into the skin and bloodstream and can have potentially toxic effects on the body. Not only that, but they will no longer give sunblock coverage, as the particles themselves are too small to shield against UVA and UVB light.

I always choose non-micronized sunblock so I don't have to worry about it absorbing into my children's bodies, and it provides great coverage.

Kid Tested Mom Approved Safe, Natural Sunscreens 

1. Blue Lizard Active Mineral Based Sunscreen

This is hands down the favorite sunscreen of moms! It's even good for kids that are prone to skin irritation from every other sunscreen.

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2. Babyganics 50 SPF Non-Micronized Zinc Sunscreen Spray

This one is gentle, safe for skin, and comes in a spray that makes it SO much easier to apply quickly and spread it evenly over your skin.

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3.Badger Natural & Organic Sunscreens

Badger sunscreens offer full, broad-spectrum protection using the mineral zinc oxide as the only active ingredient. While it is a little oily and sticky to apply, it does the job wonderfully and you know it's safe.  

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4. BurnOut Pure Suncare

Burnout is the sunscreen that I personally use and I can even apply it to my face without getting breakouts or feeling oily and greasy. If you are a beach family, this brand is for you! Rub it in completely, but don't forget to reapply.
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BurnOut advanced suncare products were developed by environmental scientist and avid surfer Kevin Dunn who, with a family history of skin cancer, was disappointed with commercial sunblocks that left him burned and were less than effective in the ocean.

All BurnOut products are put through rigorous Ocean Testing and quality control measures to ensure the highest quality suncare products available.

3. Thinkbaby and Thinksport

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With a team of physicians and scientists focused on the latest chemical and biological science, Thinkbaby and Thinksport continue to lead in the usage of safe materials for consumer products. Their efforts are further energized by working with both leading child advocacy partners and like-minded individuals who seek alternative products.

There's No Perfect Sunscreen

None of these products are perfect, but all of them are better than the junk-filled, spray-on, ineffective, mass-marketed sunscreens.

And remember, you can always make your own at home!

Water Resistant DIY Sunscreen 

If you're not ready to trust your sunscreen to anyone else and want to make your own, check out my friend Emily's non-toxic sunscreen recipe.
She uses non-nano zinc with a blend of other oils and beeswax to create a safe waterproof non-toxic sunscreen that will get the job done. Click Here for Emily's homemade sunscreen the recipe.
 

Reapply Reapply Reapply!

No matter what you choose, remember to reapply every 90 minutes in the sun or after being in the water.
 

Chinese Medicine Guide to Treating Sunburns, Burns, Itches, Bug Bites, Scrapes, Bruises and Injuries

Now that summer's in full swing, be sure to have your natural first aid kit ready! Click here to learn about my favorite Chinese medicine remedies to survive the summer!
 
 
 
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Resources:

(1) The Environmental Working Group (EWG) guide to sunscreens 2015
Sunscreen for Babies and Children, University of Florida 2013
 
Full Disclosure: Some of the links in this blog post are to our Amazon affiliate account and any sales go toward supporting this blog. Rest assured the information provided is our true and honest opinion of safe sunscreens.

7 comments

Ashley Smiley Jun 11, 2015 09:04pm
Beautycounter makes a wonderfully effective sunscreen rated a 1 by EWG and in their top 12 sunscreens list. Protect All Over is loved by parents for safe and effective formula that rubs in without leaving a white pasty film and the 'sunscreen' smell!
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Molly Ferry Jun 12, 2015 11:39pm
Great post boosting awareness! I make 2 FDA approved sunblocks with non-nanoparticle uncoated zinc paired with botanical oils with high natural SPFs (e.g. raspberry seed oil spf 28-50). They don't turn you into casper the ghost and are safe for infants...and adults! All ingredients are organic, unrefined, low allergenic and organic if I can source it. Please explore: http://www.LoveStockTallow.com
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Chinese Medicine for Sunburns, Burns, Itches, Cuts, and Injuries - Kids+Love+Acupuncture Jun 15, 2015 05:41pm
[…] Check out our summer survival store, which includes are my favorite TCM remedies for summer and beyond. Plus you’ll find safer sunscreens with less chemicals, all handy for you to review and find the one that’s right for you. Click here for the Safer Sunscreen Guide. […]
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Save Your Summertime Skin! – Robin Green Acupuncture Jun 17, 2015 03:23pm
[…] Safe Sunscreens for Summer […]
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Old-Fashioned Friday #125 - Our Heritage of Health Feb 10, 2016 05:57pm
[…] Safe Sunscreens Without All the Chemicals! by Kids+Love+Acupuncture: […]
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Thank you for the list! my child is allergic to Badger and ThinkSport (she breaks out in hives all over).  Blue Lizard has been the only sunscreen working for us so far but I wish they would make a stick so it could be applied easily by her when she has swim class.  Not sure what the common ingredient is in all Badger and all Thinksport that broke her out....

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Nicole Mitchelson Jul 2, 2020 09:02am

My whole family loves the beautycounter sunscreens. The kids use the sunscreen sticks themselves and no reactions. 
www.beautycounter.com/Nicolemitchelson

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