Using the wrong type of sunscreen can seep into the pores of your sweet little children and hurt them long term. What are the RIGHT types of sunscreens we should be using, especially with our kids (and frankly, for our own faces).
Today’s guest is Dr Samantha Radford from Evidence-Based Mommy. She is a former chemist with focus in public health. She has a whole course on safe chemical usage for families. I love that she has the science to tell us what’s safest for our families.
Big thanks to our sponsor Family Routines. If you’re in a routine things like picking the right types of sunscreen isn’t something you’ll push off to another time. You’ll have time to make better choices because the main things in life “take care of themselves”.
Safe Sunscreen for Families
Why we need to concerned with the types of sunscreen we’re putting on our kids.
Organic vs mineral sunscreen
Why you might want to re-think spray sunscreen.
Why you want to avoid nanoparticles in sunscreen
The beloved rash guard and how it helps
The sunscreens Samantha recommends:
How to balance just getting sunscreen on vs having it be the safest.
Remembering the stress we’re experiencing about sunscreen can also be damaging.
Other Information About Chemical Safety for Families:
Samantha’s article on the safest sunscreens for kids
Podcast episode on the safest cleaning chemicals during pregnancy and for families
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out my other parenting podcasts:
Check out all my podcasts:
[00:00:00.355] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today on Episode 81, we are talking about all the ways that I have ruined my kids. Oh, the more we learn as parents and science and all these kind of things, I’ve done everything wrong. But today we’re just going to talk about sunscreen. Let’s untangle it.
[00:00:25.485] – Hilary Erickson
Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast, I’m Hilary, your curly headed host on the podcast, where we untangle everything from pregnancy, parenting and home routines. I want you to know that there are no right answers for every family. And I find that simplifying my priorities is almost always the answer. It’s tangled just like my hair.
[00:00:50.435] – Hilary Erickson
OK, guys, I need reviews. I don’t know how many more ways I can say it. Please review. It really helps.
[00:00:55.985] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so the sunscreen now is super overwhelming for me and I buy a lot of it. In Arizona. We swim very frequently. We do not have a pool at our house, but we have pools that we… Friends are so generous to let us come play in. It’s so hot here. You got to do it. But when my friend Samantha, who has been on she was on a previous episode all about cleaning supplies that are safe to use while you’re pregnant or with babies, which she mentioned that she knew a lot about sunscreen.
[00:01:20.195] – Hilary Erickson
So I was like, hello, bingo, let’s do that before it heads into summer. So spring breaks right about now. And we will be heading into the time when we’re buying sunscreen more frequently. So I wanted to get you guys prepared before we hit that sunscreen now. So today’s guest is the evidence based mommy she’s been on before. She has a p h d in this kind of stuff, guys like her doctorate was in helping us protect our pregnant bodies and babies and kids from malicious chemicals that are out there.
[00:01:46.115] – Hilary Erickson
So I want to introduce my friend today, Samantha Radford.
[00:01:51.115] – Hilary Erickson
This episode of the Pulling Curls Podcast is sponsored by Family Routines How to Automate Your Housewife Life. Ever wish life was more like you pictured? It would be before you had kids being able to spend less time at the mundane tasks and more time teaching kids the fun and valuable life skills.
[00:02:05.815] – Hilary Erickson
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[00:02:13.285] – Hilary Erickson
Save 15 percent with the coupon code UNTANGLED. You can find it at pullingcurls.com in the menu under courses or in this episode show notes.
[00:02:24.575] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, Samantha, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast.
[00:02:27.485] – Samantha Radford
Hey, Hilary, good to see you or hear you.
[00:02:29.825] – Hilary Erickson
We see each other, guys, I record these on Zoom so people can see my barely washed face.
[00:02:38.845] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so we’re getting into spring break season. Actually, I think my spring break is already passed by the time this airs. But I live in Arizona, so sunscreen is super important here. I have like a whole shelf devoted. Oh yes. Sunscreen because… yeah. So I wanted Samantha mentioned that she knows a lot about sunscreen safety. And I was like, that’s fascinating because the more I’m like following people on Instagram. Ah, tick tock. You really know about this stuff.
[00:03:02.885] – Hilary Erickson
I’m like, I’m pretty sure I’m doing this wrong. So I definitely don’t want to waste all the time that I’m using to tell my kids to put on sunscreen. So let’s do it right. OK, so what can go wrong with sunscreen? What could we be doing wrong?
[00:03:14.165] – Samantha Radford
I mean, the main thing that at least I’m concerned with as a chemist is like what your sunscreen is made out of and what kinds of health effects those ingredients can have.
[00:03:26.495] – Samantha Radford
So, of course, there’s also application and all that stuff too, which is a whole nother thing, but especially if you’ve got babies or little ones because their skin allows stuff to absorb through more easily than we can as an adult or even if you’re pregnant. Sunscreen, I think up to four percent of one of the active ingredients gets absorbed through your skin into your bloodstream, and then it can make it into the placenta and so it can cross to your baby.
[00:03:53.255] – Samantha Radford
So there’s just a lot to be aware of that you might not be thinking about. I see your face looks very concerned now.
[00:03:58.805] – Hilary Erickson
I’m really I’m really well, my kids are teenagers, so I’ve already screwed them up as much as I’m going to get going.
[00:04:07.745] – Samantha Radford
So if you are listening to this and that’s exactly what your thinking is. Oh, dear God. But I already had my kids is going to be OK. That’s kind of one of the things about knowing about these toxicants in general is that we can get so wrapped up in it that it paralyzes us.
[00:04:23.915] – Samantha Radford
So do what you can moving forward. Don’t panic about the past that you can’t change.
[00:04:29.525] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, like my kids haven’t grown another eye, so I feel really good.
[00:04:33.065] – Samantha Radford
Right? Like it is probably OK. It’s just all like a statistics thing, increasing chances from very, very many to still pretty much new different things like.
[00:04:44.525] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, yeah. Is there a specific thing in sunscreen we should be not wanting?
[00:04:49.055] – Samantha Radford
So there are kind of like two main classes of sunscreens.
[00:04:53.495] – Samantha Radford
There are physical or mineral sunscreens and there’s organic sunscreens. So when we say organic, we don’t mean like organic food, like crunchy organic, we mean more like carbon based sunscreens.
[00:05:06.905] – Samantha Radford
So those sunscreens, the way they work is basically you apply them to your skin. And whenever UV light from the sun hits them, a chemical reaction occurs and that chemical reaction happens on the skin. And so instead of the UV light, like entering into your skin cells and causing damage, instead, they just like work on the sunscreen instead. And so it mitigates the harmfulness of the UV light.
[00:05:34.165] – Hilary Erickson
And that’s probably what most of us have used up till now.
[00:05:37.025] – Samantha Radford
Yes. So the organic sunscreens are lighter weight. They’re easy to put into a spray like they feel better. So, yeah, a lot of times it’s just we reach for because they just they feel better. So the other one, like I said, those are mineral sunscreens. So those are ones that either have like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. So they’re the ones that are thicker and leaves that feeling on you kind of slimy. And if you’re already pretty fair like me, they turn you into like just this white amazing this and the way they work, they’re like physical sunscreen.
[00:06:11.855] – Samantha Radford
So basically the little particles of zinc or titanium act is tiny, tiny mirrors that just reflect the sun like the UV light away. And so they don’t feel as nice, but they’re actually the safer ones.
[00:06:25.885] – Hilary Erickson
So you’re like on Twilight, where they sparkle.
[00:06:29.025] – Samantha Radford
Yes, yes, yes.
[00:06:30.605] – Hilary Erickson
As you can tell your kids, that shouldn’t be watching Twilight, so maybe they’ll have fun. OK, so those. Yeah, because I’m just starting to hear about mineral. Sounds great. Now I have I mean, back in the day when I was little, I think I’m older than you. We used to put zinc on our nose. Yeah. Like zinc oxide. And it was really cool because you could do with colors or whatever.
[00:06:48.845] – Hilary Erickson
So that would be a mineral.
[00:06:50.285] – Samantha Radford
Yes. You see the words zinc or titanium. That’s going to be a mineral sunscreen. That’s a good option. And there’s sunscreens now that are combined, like they might have some titanium dioxide, but also have some organic stuff. So if you see the word or the phrase, I guess Oxi somewhere in the name, like oxybenzone is a big one, then it’s going to be an organic sunscreen. There’s lots of different ones.
[00:07:13.925] – Samantha Radford
They don’t always have that Oxy thing in there, but that’s a good way to know real quick. But basically, if it’s not a mineral one, that’s. To have titanium or zinc, it’s the other type, an organic one.
[00:07:27.655] – Hilary Erickson
Are there specific chemicals that have been in sunscreens that we need to watch out for? Or is there a way that we could just know and we’re like going to Wal-Mart?
[00:07:35.705] – Samantha Radford
If you go if you just go for the titanium dioxide or for the zinc oxide?
[00:07:41.815] – Samantha Radford
That’s the best way to go.
[00:07:43.435] – Hilary Erickson
Do they sell those as a spray? Said the lazy mom.
[00:07:46.015] – Samantha Radford
OK, let’s talk about sprays, too. Since since you ask. They do sometimes. OK, so one of the concerns that’s actually a whole nother thing, whether you choose organic or mineral. The thing with the sprays is that when you spray it, you’re likely to inhale it. Right. And so then you’re getting like an even more direct exposure to whatever compounds that are potentially hazardous.
[00:08:10.675] – Samantha Radford
So your options are to be slightly less lazy, which I understand is not awesome when you’re trying to get sunblock on like three little kids. Like I get with a pain, that is. But you can either do like the lotion form or just make sure you spray onto your hand and then white from there and make sure that your kids cover their face and don’t breathe in while you’re spraying.
[00:08:32.155] – Hilary Erickson
OK, what if you tell them to hold their breath? That’s what I do. I’m like, shut your mouth algebra. Like you’re still probably not as helpful. So as a mom of teenage boys, I just feel weird, like slathering them up with sunscreen. And so I’ve really enjoyed the spray.
[00:08:47.965] – Samantha Radford
Are they old enough to put their own sunscreen on without scaring them.
[00:08:51.715] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, but, you know, if you lotion, you still have to rub it in, which I guess is kind of awkward.
[00:08:57.595] – Hilary Erickson
But then I make them rub mine in and it’s also awkward.
[00:09:00.235] – Hilary Erickson
So no, no. Yeah.
[00:09:03.185] – Samantha Radford
Oh so back to if you were to use the physical like the mineral sunscreens in a spray form, I believe some of those to use nanoparticle minerals instead of just like regular, very small. So if you get down to like a certain level of size of chemicals, basically we call those nanoparticles and nanoparticles behave very differently just because of their size. And that means that they might we don’t know enough yet, basically, but they might get absorbed into the bloodstream.
[00:09:35.035] – Samantha Radford
And then if they do like, how’s that going to affect us? We’re still not sure yet. So avoid mineral sunscreens that say that they’re like nano particles or say the word nano in there somewhere.
[00:09:47.755] – Hilary Erickson
OK, interesting. So really, we should probably try and avoid the spray when possible. Right.
[00:09:52.555] – Samantha Radford
Because I think more more than likely, I am not sure off the top of my head, if you have to disclose if you’re using nanoparticles versus regular, but I would suspect the sprays would be more likely to have nanoparticles because I mean I mean, that makes sense because they are. Right.
[00:10:08.515] – Hilary Erickson
So, so fine particles, right? Yeah. Or maybe you just use the spray on your back, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And on your chest and your arms you can easily.
[00:10:16.735] – Hilary Erickson
Whose lotion. So there are ways probably to sidestep this and still it’s protective. I am a big fan of the Sun shirt so my kids all have rash guards when we swim because I am horrible like sunscreen.
[00:10:30.295] – Samantha Radford
So that’s actually another thing I wanted to bring up, especially the babies. But even teenagers like you have like just make it easier on yourself and just get them those little swimsuits. Like even now they have little girl swimsuits like even six and seven year old, you know, where they have long sleeved shirts and little shorts or something. And that that just saves you time and effort. And then awkwardness, I guess, is they’re older and you’re not going to miss a spot on their back because it’s a shirt.
[00:10:57.985] – Hilary Erickson
My daughter got the cutest one, a target. So you just kind of have to look around as a mom like it was a it’s a full suit that goes to her wrists. So that was really nice because it’s really cute. Yes. I think as a mom, you kind of have to look out versus just like the the Raschka, the ugly Raschka, which is what I wear is red. But I want my kids to feel confident, but also especially when they’re at a friend’s house, they’re not going to remember the sunscreen.
[00:11:21.055] – Samantha Radford
Yeah. Yeah, that’s true.
[00:11:22.525] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. As your kids get older. So this is good advice. But I, I’m just inside making a vow that we’re not going to put spray on our front part of our body anywhere we can reach with our hands. We’re going to use lotion. Don’t you think that’s like a good happy medium?
[00:11:35.995] – Samantha Radford
Yeah. I mean, I’m thinking I’m so just from my background, like I’m aware of like parts per billion and parts per million levels are enough to sometimes cause issues depending on the particular chemicals.
[00:11:47.455] – Samantha Radford
So even if you choose to just spray your back, some of it’s going to where your shoulders are. It’ll kind of get ahead or is your face and stuff. But I mean, yeah, that can work.
[00:11:57.235] – Hilary Erickson
So it’s still better than nothing. Yeah. Yeah. So there’s that, especially when I had tiny kids, like no one could rub my back and no one could even reach it. Right. Yeah, definitely. Just like don’t spray the face.
[00:12:10.045] – Samantha Radford
That’s like the biggest thing if you’ve got spray sunscreen and that’s what you got so. Well then spray your hand and then rub it.
[00:12:17.905] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. I love Neutrogena sunscreen for my face. Do you have a face. Sunscreen that you like?
[00:12:23.075] – Samantha Radford
Off the top of my head, I don’t so I just kind of use the same thing for, like, everywhere.
[00:12:29.265] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, well, in Arizona I sunscreen every day. OK, OK, so we’re in the summer, so it’s less of a thing.
[00:12:37.445] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. OK, do you have any brands of sunscreen that you like do.
[00:12:40.865] – Samantha Radford
Let me see if I can remember beach bum like the monkey face on it. OK, I have a baby sunscreen. That’s good. Yeah. So I’ve got a couple there. Think baby safe sunscreen. So that’s a great one. It’s got an SPF of 50 plus baby bump. That’s what this one is called. So it’s a mineral sunscreen badger baby sunscreen. So those are all I’m focused more on people with young children.
[00:13:04.505] – Hilary Erickson
So I’m picking babies now as the mom because you probably don’t want to pack 12 cans of sunscreen or bottle. We’re not using you. We can use this on us to.
[00:13:15.155] – Samantha Radford
Right, absolutely. And that’s kind of the thing is there’s no real regulation as to what makes a baby sunscreen versus just sunscreen. So I don’t even know how they decide to market it that way, other than we’ll make more money if we tell people this is for babies. And in fact, you have to watch that because you automatically think like, oh, look, this is baby sunscreen. It must be safe. But a lot of times they have those more toxic mineral sunscreens in them or not minerals sorry, more toxic organic sunscreens in them, which makes sense because it feels smoother and it’s kind of easier to apply and stuff and doesn’t leave you all sticky.
[00:13:53.135] – Samantha Radford
So when people don’t know the difference,
[00:13:55.685] – Hilary Erickson
what about with these mineral ones? Do they wash off faster?
[00:13:58.535] – Samantha Radford
No, not necessarily. Definitely reapply like you’re supposed to and all that. Actually, that’s a good point. So let’s say that for whatever reason, you’re at the beach and the sunscreen that you have, it’s it’s an organic one.
[00:14:12.275] – Samantha Radford
So you have like oxybenzone when they tell you to apply it and then wait ten minutes or twenty minutes or whatever, like they really do mean that partially because you don’t want to wash off of you because you’ll get sunburned and partially because especially if you’re at the ocean. So those that particular sunscreen has been shown to cause problems with the coral reef. So killing off the coral reef, which we know is like a really big deal in a really bad problem.
[00:14:38.915] – Samantha Radford
And so we don’t want to contribute to that. So especially oxybenzone don’t don’t wear it to the beach. But if you do wear it to the beach, make sure that you wait that twenty minutes or whatever that they tell you before you jump in.
[00:14:52.295] – Hilary Erickson
Oh, interesting. So that’s about the creatures. And to me. Yes, yes. When it says reef safe on it. Still the same thing.
[00:14:59.195] – Samantha Radford
If it’s reef safe, I imagine that it’s something that that shouldn’t cause those problems.
[00:15:04.145] – Samantha Radford
So I would be curious if the reef safe ones are mineral sunscreens. I haven’t looked like to notice that, but I would bet that’s what it is interesting because I mean, now I’m worried that if I’m killing coral, it’s likely I’m killing myself, too.
[00:15:22.385] – Hilary Erickson
Well, all right. So we are making a change starting today. So for me, we’ll just use canned sunscreen on our backs, possibly our legs, no more face, sunscreen with the cans and look for more mineral sunscreens. Yes. Even though I really don’t like how they feel. I know I don’t either. Yeah. Is there any tips for making them feel less now.
[00:15:43.505] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. So but definitely worth it. And usually I only just like them right after I put on. And then once you’re in the water and stuff like that, I don’t end up noticing it as much. Do you agree.
[00:15:52.715] – Samantha Radford
Yeah, I would agree with that.
[00:15:54.005] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. I’ll have to check out and see if Neutrogena has a mineral based one. So if I find it I’ll put it in the show notes because there’s usually feels less sticky in general.
[00:16:02.735] – Samantha Radford
I think that why though honestly I think that Neutrogena sunscreen has gotten a bad rap for having hazardous stuff in it.
[00:16:10.685] – Hilary Erickson
Probably. So I’m getting a third eyeball. No.
[00:16:16.235] – Samantha Radford
OK, good information.
[00:16:17.525] – Hilary Erickson
Also, if you guys have a sunscreen brand that you love, that you feel is safe, tell us in the comments. I would love to look them up because sunscreen, we buy it in bulk here
[00:16:26.525] – Samantha Radford
and that’s something else to think about. There’s a lot of like moisturizers or foundations or whatever that have sunscreens in them. And those are almost always going to be organic sunscreens because for cosmetics, like you want something lightweight. So just keep that in mind.
[00:16:41.405] – Hilary Erickson
[00:16:42.185] – Samantha Radford
How do you how much you’re concerned about it, but something to be aware of.
[00:16:45.635] – Hilary Erickson
I do know that some of them have who have used mineral sunscreen people don’t love because then if you have a flash picture or like let’s say you’re a YouTube star, they don’t like the light bouncing off of them and them being all twilight.
[00:16:56.825] – Samantha Radford
Yeah, I could see that.
[00:16:58.445] – Hilary Erickson
So, I mean, obviously, both are usable. Right. And so just pick what works for you in that moment, but maybe more mineral in places where the sun hits a lot, and especially when you’re when you’ve got kids like little little people.
[00:17:12.695] – Hilary Erickson
Yes. Plus, if we trained kids to to know that that’s just how sunscreen feels versus me, then they won’t know the defense. They’ll just assume it’s supposed to be gross and. It’s like when we started using seatbelts, people felt confined. But I don’t feel confined in a seatbelt. It’s just what I do in a car, right. Or like I always have whole wheat bread for our kids and now their grandparents give them white bread. Sometimes I’m like, oh, no, they know white bread exists like the candy of bread.
[00:17:37.995] – Hilary Erickson
My kids are always like they had white bread at their house.
[00:17:41.175] – Hilary Erickson
Exactly. Well, the family’s better than us. It’s fine. Really good information. As we head into summer, guys, check out the labels on your sunscreen. Try and get mineral when possible. All right. Thanks, Samantha. OK, guys. So after we stopped recording, I was just like, oh, Samantha, that is so overwhelming for me because it is also it’s really overwhelming in the makeup section, but maybe we’ll talk more about that later.
[00:18:04.425] – Hilary Erickson
But she said, you know, you have to remember that the stress is also not good for you. So as much as we’re like trying to keep these chemicals out of our bodies, we also need to remember that feeling overwhelmed and frustrated is also bad for our body. So just go there, try and make the best choice that you can. I am going to link to the products that she recommends in the show notes. That way you can either check your aisle or you can buy them on Amazon.
[00:18:26.265] – Hilary Erickson
But I think the more we know, the better we can do. But again, don’t make it a stressful feeling. Just try and do the best that you can, especially just moving forward. Don’t dwell in the past that I in circa two and probably slathered my kid with horrible toxins and maybe that’s why he doesn’t text me back.
[00:18:41.685] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks so much for joining us today. I hope we help smooth out a few of the snarls in your life. We drop an episode every Monday and we always appreciate it when you guys share and review until next time. We hope you have a tangle free day!