Summer officially begins for us next week, as the last day of school is Tuesday.  Yeah, that’s right…Tuesday – the day after Memorial Day.  Welcome to my world.

Since most of you either have already begun summer (luuuuuuucky!) or will begin it very soon, I figured this would be a good time to bring up sunscreen.  Long before this healthy change took place in my home, I had issues with sunscreen.  And for this generally-too-white girl, that was already a red flag.

About two years ago my mom was getting ready to take the kids to a neighborhood park and was protecting them with sunscreen before they left the house.  You know how kids are, so you can imagine the scene: this was RIGHT before they left the house in unbridled excitement, meaning that the sunscreen application happened just inches from the door in a hurry-up-and-stand-still-so-I-can-spray-you fashion.  I had purchased a common name-brand spray sunscreen, waterproof and 70 SPF, to make sure that my babies’ precious skin was protected.  Mom sprayed brisk swipes to the skin not covered by shorts and tee shirts.  The exterior door is in her utility room, so they were standing right next to her brand new front-loading washing machine.  An excited flailing arm wiped against the machine door, and when Mom went to wipe off the resulting smudge, it had ALREADY ETCHED INTO THE SEE-THRU DOOR!!! As in, permanent damage!!  In under two minutes!!

Have you ever spilled nail polish remover on acrylic?  Suffice it to say that I have.  (On accident, of course.  Plus, I was like, 14, so no judging, K?)  Anyhoo…the acetone in the remover made a permanent white etch-mark into the acrylic face of my alarm clock.  Mom and I both recalled this fact as we gazed at the damage to her washing machine door and wondered how in the heck we were gonna explain this to my dad.


Immediately after realizing that we could just let Dad deal with the door, our next thoughts echoed each other’s:  If sunscreen can do that to the washing machine door, what is it doing to our skin????  We stopped using spray sunscreens altogether, and opted only for lotions – messy as they are.

Now  that I have begun to avoid parabens, petrochemicals, and propellants in my skin care products, how in the name of Jiminy Christmas do you find an acceptable  sunscreen? One that is not going to actually do more damage to you than the sun itself??

You turn to the Environmental Working Group, of course!  They have produced the Sunscreen Guide iPhone app, which lists the safest sunscreens and gives you the 4-1-1 on sunscreen claims – the good and the bad!  It tells you what ingredients are best and what ingredients to avoid.  Over 1,700 sun-care products are reviewed and rated in this app.  I downloaded the app at the end of last summer.  They just updated it last Monday for 2011, so go check it out.  It’s free!!

So what am I using on my kids this summer?  Badger brand Waterproof Unscented 30 SPF sunscreen.  It’s $13/bottle at Sunshine Health Foods, and I’m hoping it rocks.  But, other than keeping my kids from getting burned, it really doesn’t need to do a whole lot more to impress me.  With none of the chemical ingredients that I am working so hard to avoid, plus having earned a nod from the EWG, it had me at hello.

SafeMama reviewed the Badger sunscreen and liked it, so I think I’m probably on the right track.  They also have a sunscreen guide “cheat sheet” on their website that you might want to check out.  It’s labeled 2010, but I’m sure they will be updating soon since I noticed that they had offered the guide in 2009 as well.

What are your favorite safe sunscreen products?  Help spread the word for a safe, happy and Purpose-Driven Summer!!!