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Not All Sunscreen is Safe

sunscreen, sunblock

It's important to wear sunscreen, but harmful if you pick the wrong kind.

This week’s Babble’s Best list is recommended sunscreens for kids. They range from inexpensive to pricey, sweat- and waterproof to formulated for delicate skin. There’s stuff for face, body, lips and head. And it comes in all forms like cream, sticks, sprays or towelettes.

I’m a moderate sunscreen enforcer at best. We live in Southern California, where it’s pretty much sunny year-round. But my sunscreen vigilance kicks in during the summertime only. I find studies on sunscreen effectiveness confusing — last year I learned that a higher SPF isn’t actually offering more protection and may do more harm than good. And lately I’ve been trying to figure out where I stand on reported dangers of the bottled skin-protection.

The Environmental Wellness Group released its 2011 sunscreen report, which is a great resource for sunscreen information. Their list of top sunscreens mixes adult and kid formulas, many of which overlap with the Babble’s Best list. What’s more, they score their picks (a low number is better than a high one) and rank from low to excellent each of these sunscreen elements: UVB protection (SPF), UVA protection, UVA/UVB balance, and sunscreen stability. They also rank health concerns from moderate to serious for each brand.

There are plenty to choose from, though from experience I know some can be hard to find. They list alphabetically the 128 best sunscreens available in the U.S.

EWG also lists the best make-up with sunscreen and they have a pretty decent search function so you can see how your favorite base or lipstick does.

Of course, as EWG says, the very best sunscreen is a shirt and a hat.

Here are Heather’s tips on how to pick a safe and effective sunscreen.

Photo: strollerderby.com

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