I live in Arizona, and if I had to pick two things that are crucial to surviving a Sonoran Desert summer I’d choose water and sunscreen. Unfortunately, with sunscreen, you’re darned if you do and darned if you don’t. Most traditional brands of sunscreen contain a bevy of chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors, contain parabens and a variety of other toxins. On the flip side, the sun’s harmful UV rays aren’t exactly a good alternative. Thankfully, there are some healthier-for-you and healthier-for-the-environment sunscreens available on the market today. Let me preface my sunscreen recommendation with the fact that I always do my best to avoid sun exposure, especially by my children. As a fair-skinned Arizona native, I know the dangers of sun exposure. We try to wait until the pool is shaded to go swimming, we wear protective clothing and gear when we go hiking and generally avoid the sun as much as possible. However, we can’t stay indoors from sun up until sun down all summer, so when we do go out, we protect our skin. Our go-to brand for sunscreen, even for the adults, is California Baby. I started using California Baby products when my now 8-year-old was an infant. The brand has several fragrance-free versions of sunscreen available, and each has received a score of a 1 or 2 (recommended) from the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. The primary ingredient in the California Baby sunscreen is titanium dioxide, and while there are some mild health concerns associated with titanium dioxide, it is much safer than many of the other products on the market. California Baby sunscreen does not contain the chemicals that earn other sunscreen products a score of 7 or higher, which is the score given to products that the EWG recommends the public avoid. The California Baby product line is healthier for your children and the environment, but the company’s business model is also sustainability minded. California Baby products are packaged in recyclable HDPE #2 plastic, the company uses recycled paper with soy ink, no boxes or clamshells are used for shipping and biodegradable packing peanuts are used in place of Styrofoam for protection. In addition, California Baby recycles all of its own production and packaging plastic. California Baby isn’t the only healthier choice for sunscreen out there, but it is the brand that I’ve been using for eight years now. I still recommend avoiding the sun when possible, but there are times when it is unavoidable, and when those times come, I’m thankful to have a product like California Baby to use.
Sunscreen: Darned if You Do, Darned if You Don’t
Looking for a sustainable brand of sunscreen that favors recycling isn’t always easy. Think ahead before you take a trip to the beach or pool.