Tuesday, December 07, 2010

All Things Sunny

As we move into summertime here in Australia I've realized that I need to seriously consider the precautions we'll take to protect Riker from the downright vicious sun we're exposed to on a daily basis. So with that in mind I set out to find the best hats, sunglasses and sunblocks out there for children. Hats and sunglasses were fairly easy. I was looking for a hat with a very wide brim and a chin strap and sunglasses with complete UV protection and a strap to keep them on a toddler's head. I ended up purchasing the Sunday Afternoon Kid's Play Hat available in Australia here. For sunglasses I went with Baby Banz Adventure Banz and here's the wee one kindly modeling them:

Now sunblock turned out to be a bit trickier. First of all I learned that octyl methoxycinnamate (the first ingredient in all of the sunblocks on my shelf) is fairly toxic stuff, possibly carcinogenic and a known endocrine disruptor. Great. So sunblocks that use chemical means of blocking sunlight could have some serious side effects which led me to consider what other types of sunblock are out there, other than the pure white zinc creams used on the noses of lifeguards. Turns out that there are sunscreens which use very tiny particles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These provide a physical barrier to the sun but don't leave your skin white. But don't run out to the store just yet because it turns out that these products often use nanoparticles which have been shown to produce free radicals and to damage DNA, especially when exposed to UV light! So the bottom line is that for both children and adults, it is best to use a non-nano zinc based sunscreen (which several sources suggest is safer than titanium). The good news is that there are lots to choose from; you just have to know what you want before you go to the store or order online because companies don't have to label the use of nanoparticles. So for those of you in Australia, see the very informative Friends of the Earth Safe Sunscreen Guide Summer 2010/11. You might also be interested in the Environmental Working Group's Sunscreen Guide, an excellent resource which gives each sunscreen a score and discusses safety concerns of every ingredient in a product. Not all of these sunscreens are available in Australia and they don't seem to list the use of nanoparticles so you need to compare with the ones on the Safe Sunscreen Guide.

So what did I end up buying you ask? I couldn't decide so I bought two different types. Natural Instinct for us and WotNot for Riker. I'd review them for you as well, but all of my sun related research has yielded nothing but rain, rain and more rain!