Part I: Outdoors and Sports Activities
Sunscreen — essential and your best friend during the fabulous summer season. How to choose the best sun block cream to effectively protect from UV ray damage, sunburns, and also not clogging your skin pores to cause skin break outs so that you can enjoy your summer activities: hiking, biking, swimming, beach volleyball, or just enjoying the sun without worries? Here is my experience with my kids and myself…
One thing about my kids, they both are year around competitive swimmers (7 yrs old & 5 yrs old) spending at least 90 minutes under the sun at least 5 days a week. My boy’s skin is quite sensitive to UVB in particular his cheeks (turn red quickly and easily) that we worry it might have some long-term damage to cellular DNA, which can cause some serious skin problems later on in his life such as skin cancer. According to our dermatologist, in order for sunscreen to be effective, it needs to have chemical based elements. This is in direct opposition to my beliefs; thus, I did extensive research on what major natural ingredients prevent cellular damage from UV rays and yet are consistent with my natural/organic philosophy.
Zinc Oxide (ZnO) is not only the safest mineral but also the most effective ingredient when it comes to sun damage protection. I believe it’s because of ZnO chemical properties: Inorganic compound, insoluble with water and a white color paste; hence, a best candidate for a sunscreen active ingredient when it comes to UV ray protection. It’s a bit difficult to apply evenly because of the thickness of the creamy paste when using a ZnO sunscreen cream. The thickness of the white paste creates a barrier between the skin and sun to stop UV rays from penetrating through. Therefore, no need to apply evenly or force to rub it into skin (common error: psyhcologically rub until white color is gone = skin absorb the sunscreen).
Another common question is how to clean off that white paste look at the end of day? Generally a special soap is not needed to clean it off. It naturally dissipates in water over time. But you can use a towel to gently wipe it off from the face while it is still wet, and it won’t clog skin pores unless you don’t generate any sweats or oil from sun exposure. ☺ I have included one article about natural sunscreen cream if you want to learn more. http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/07/20/natural-sunscreen-review-do-mineral-based-sunblocks-work-2/
Badger – Sport Sunscreen Cream SPF 35
The best!!! We use it on our kids during their sports activities. It contains the highest Zinc Oxide% (22.5%) that we can find at our local market. Badger proves that a sunscreen can be 100% effective with all natural ingredients. Our experience at first, it was very hard to apply (thick and difficult to rub onto skin evenly), and they appeared as a “white ghost” because of the white paste cream. But once we got used to it, it’s very easy to apply and smells great (a very pleasant non-sense smells) and both my kids do not show any sign of allergic reaction to the high concentration of ZnO. The other important key factor for this product that we loved (typically for kids) is that the cream will not roll down into their eyes when either they are submerged in water or sweating from running on a soccer field for hours. Water resistance is perfect. The water repels from the skin that tells me that ZnO is working. It’s a major and key requirement for my kids since they are in the pool for an extensive time through out the year
Badger – SPF30 Lightly Scented Lavender
We use the Active line of sunscreen on my kids for their regular school or weekend hiking when the temp is 90 or higher. The smell is pleasant and nice which my kids and I enjoy very much. All of their products are good for adults and kids. We tend to only use them on kids because it’s on the pricey side ☺
Goddess Garden Organic – SunnyBody SPF30 Sport Spray
We actually used a few others sunscreen products from Goddess Garden Organic but this SPF30 Sport Spray is the only spray that works well with my kids sport activities, and it works well in combination with Badger. Because the aerosol mechanism restricts the % of ZnO, it doesn’t work as well when it comes to protecting from UV rays. Other Goddess Garden spray products work well just not enough for my kids. We were so thrilled and excited when Goddess Garden Organic finally introduced the sport spray. It contains 6.0% Zinc Oxide and 6.4% Titanium Oxide, no chemical based elements as well as stearic acid instead of the traditional alcohol formula (more natural form, less allergic), which allows the aerosol mechanism to work. It’s amazing how Goddess Garden is able to engineer a creamy texture via an aerosol mechanism. It’s easier to apply and still provides a barrier to prevent UV rays to penetrate the skin. However, I do feel the water resistance does not quite work as well as it says or like Badger does, it needs to be re-applied every 45 mins or so. My personal belief is it’s probably due to the % of ZnO so that it gets dissipated in water faster.
We normally ONLY use spray on our kids arms, legs and body. In conjunction, we use Badger on their neck, shoulders and face. Again it’s because Badger contains a much higher % of zinc oxide so we use it on the most easy to burn areas on the body.
Alba Bontanica – Hawaiian SPF45, Lavender Spectrum SPF45
Overall, we are very pleased with Alba Bontanica products line from the hair products to their sun protection product line. However, TiO2 just doesn’t provide the same effectiveness as ZnO; plus the water resistance is almost none (at least when it comes to our kids outdoor activities). None of us have any allergic reaction, and the fragrance is very soothing. Note: We did use the Pure Lavender Board Spectrum SPF45 for our Disneyland, Lego Land, Sea World trip which gave us UV ray protection as well. No one got burned while watching the 45 min dolphin show. 🙂
On the contrary, I would like to emphasize that sunscreen creams aren’t going to prevent you from getting a tan. ☺ I understand some Asian cultures are big on “staying white”, they cover their arms with long sleeves, wear gloves, wear shields even while driving, 365 days, year around to prevent getting DARK. First, healthy skin color is actually good looking and fashionable even with kids. Second, getting enough sun exposure means you will have adequate amounts of vitamin D which is an essential vitamin for our bodies. The vitamin D helps convert all the calcium that we intake from food into good bio available Calcium form for our body. So while you enjoy your outdoor activities during the beautiful summer especially use sunscreen cream to avoid any UV ray damage and also receive adequate natural vitamin D from natural sources. And, YES, the natural/organic sunscreen creams do work you just need to choose the right active ingredients and know what to choose for your activities. Most importantly, do apply enough sunscreen to meet the SPF numbers and don’t forget to re-apply. If you are part of the Asian culture that believes in being as “white” as possible; then, I suggest visiting an Asian supermarket to buy yourself the visor shield for 24 hours use. ^-^
Enjoy the summer!