Please note that these recommendations are not paid for or compensated by the companies in any way. They are simply my personal recommendations of what we use in my household.
Please also note that these recommendations are good for today and probably tomorrow, too. However, companies are often changing formulations. Sometimes companies get bought out by big conglomerations, and when they do, ingredients and quality can change drastically, usually not for the better. So while these are the products we use now, they might change tomorrow to become less than tolerable.
Sunscreen is a really tricky one. When I ask you to think about what a swimming pool smells like, you’ll quickly be able to bring to mind the smells of chlorine and sunscreen. Most sunscreens stink in a way that people identify with summer, and most people want that sunscreen smell. What that smell usually is, though, is a concoction of toxic chemicals including a large number of synthetic fragrances. For me, most sunscreens are as terrible to tolerate as straight perfume or cologne. I can’t get anywhere near public swimming pools, including non-chlorinated ones, because there is so much fragrance in the air.
Even many natural sunscreens are loaded with highly fragrant essential oils (some of which I react to) and some questionable synthetic chemicals. Just because a sunscreen is sold at a natural foods store, don’t automatically trust it to be safe for you.
So when asked what sunscreen I usually wear, the answer is that I don’t. Skin cancer paranoid people should not panic. I do not spend much time in the sun, and when I do, my body desperately needs the vitamin D created by the sun exposure. I am also not on bodies of water, so I don’t have sunscreen needs for that reason either.
My kids, on the other hand, are a different story. My daughter inherited her father’s pale Irish/English skin pigmentation, and she burns in the blink of an eye. She has to wear sunscreen, reapply frequently, and still will often burn. All my kids do water activities in the summer, and so they do end up needing to use a sunscreen that won’t leave a fragrant toxic residue on their sensitive skin, either.
The best sunscreen we have found in terms of being odor-free and non-toxic is UV Natural’s Baby Sunscreen (SPF 30+). It is not cheap. It didn’t use to be available locally, so I would order it online. In theory, sunscreen should be replaced every year because it can go rancid, but we’ve often found tubes will last for two or three years before going bad. So while it’s an investment, it lasts. It’s also cheaper than medical bills for skin cancer! However, this is the best we’ve found in terms of being tolerable to my super-sensitive system. I can be around my kids when they have it on and not have a problem. When I start needing to wear sunscreen, this is where I will start.
The backup recommendation that I give people is for California Baby No Fragrance (SPF 30+). I am not fond of many of the ingredients in it, but it is more commonly available in local venues. It’s relatively tolerable for me to be around, though it does have more of an odor than the UV Natural.
We also tried another natural sunscreen with even more minimal ingredients (organic soybean oil, organic aloe vera butter, candillia wax, vegetable emulsifying wax, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and cosmocil). My kids just burned too quickly with it both in zinc oxide and titanium dioxide forms. I recommend that company for other products but not their sunscreen. Because it’s a negative review for a small online vendor, I choose not to give the company name here.
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