A Parent's Review of Natural Sunscreens for Children: GreenPeople Organic Children, Lavera Sun Spray and Badger
With the arrival of the summer sun it is time to start looking forward to days spent outside, enjoying the warmth, fresh air and longer daylight hours. Picnics, day trips, visits to the beach or simply just pottering about in the garden are all activities that can be enjoyed as a family - somehow, life just feels better when the sun is out. However, along with the buckets, spades and picnic blanket, if the weather is hot you are going to require some form of sun protection.
Sun protection is important for everyone, but especially for children. A child's skin is thinner and more prone to sun damage - even on hazy days the sun can permeate through the clouds and cause sunburn. What's more, research shows that sunburn before the age of fifteen is an important factor in the development of skin cancer as an adult. Everyone needs some sunlight on their skin in order for the body to produce vitamin D (natural sunlight is the best source of this essential vitamin which can protect against health problems, including rickets). But children out in strong sunshine for any considerable amount of time are going to need sunscreen to prevent skin damage.
If you are reading this article then you are probably already considering using a natural sunscreen as opposed to the more readily available chemical formulas. Most sunscreens found on the high street contain a plethora of chemicals, and a growing number of parents are dubious over the safety of plastering young children with such products. Some chemical sunscreen ingredients are carcinogenic, and what's more the skin absorbs a percentage of everything that is put on it, meaning chemicals can unavoidably end up in the bloodstream. Natural sunscreens are typically made using physical poperties that sit on top of the skin, forming a barrier, rather than sinking in.
When my first son was born, I opted for the ordinary chemical sunscreens such as Ambre Solaire to protect his skin in the sun. Ten years ago, I was not even aware of the existence of natural sun products. A few years later, however, I read an article about the comparison between natural sunscreen and more 'conventional' sun products, and made the switch. To date, I have used three different natural suncreams - GreenPeople's Organic Children, Lavera Sun Spray for Babies and Children, and Badger. All of these products are available to buy at stores in my home city, which is convenient. Below I have written reviews on all three sunscreens, based on my own personal opinion and experience.
Before I begin, I would just like to point out that, in my experience, natural sunscreens do not stain clothes in the way that chemical alternatives frequently do. I have never had clothes permanently marked with natural sun products, even when on pale colours (and I have a lot of pale coloured t-shirts destroyed by chemical formulas).
GreenPeople Organic Children's Sunscreen Factor 25
The GreenBaby Organic Sunscreen for Children is available in factor 25 (it used to be factor 22 but has since been increased). It contains titanium dioxide which is a physical sunblock, and also some gentle and therapeutic ingredients such as aloe vera and edelweiss to protect and nourish young skin. It is also water resistant, so children can play happily in the sea or pool whilst still protected (although it will need reapplying after each stint in water, as is typical of most sunscreens).
I have used this sunscreen a lot on both of my children - it is very easy and pleasant to apply, not at all greasy and does not leave your child looking white and pasty. In fact, after the initial application, it doesn't really leave any residue at all. It seems to protect children very well - I have used it on my youngest son when he was only a year old and he has never had even an inkling of sunburn or redness.
GreenPeople sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA rays. However, whilst many companies producing sunscreen products display the level of UVA protection in the form of a star rating on the bottle (5 offers top protection, whilst 1 offers very little), this information seems to be largely absent on natural and organic sunscreens. Because of this omission I decided to email the company to ask as to the UVA rating of the Organic Children's Suncream. I received a prompt reply which explained that the product was considered 3+ stars when it came to protection against UVA rays.
Another issue which I emailed the company over was the topic of nanotechnology, because I had read about the possibility of nano particles used during the manufacturing of sun protection products being small enough to seep through the skin and enter the body. Natural sunscreens are, more often than not, also made using modern-day nanotechnology - without it, physical sunscreens would have an extremely white appearance unlikely to be favoured by many. I emailed GreenPeople asking whether nanotechnology was used and received a reply stating that nanoparticles were coated and clumped together, thus making absorption extremely unlikely.
GreenPeople Organic Children's Sun Lotion continues to be my personal favourite thus far, due to its pleasant consistency and effectiveness.
Lavera Sun Spray for Babies and Children
Lavera Sun Spray for Children is another good product to use when protecting children's skin in the sun. Although I do favour GreenPeople's Organic Children as my personal favourite, I have used Lavera several times and find it to be a good lotion which is both effective and easy to apply. Howevr, whilst it does cover the skin very well it seems to be marginally more noticeable leaving a very slight sheen). Both of my children have spent a whole summer using Lavera sun lotion, and did not suffer from any skin redness or burning, so I would still very much recommend this product and would still be happy to use it again.
When I first purchased Lavera Sun Spray for Babies and Children , it claimed to offer a protection of factor 25. Now the factor has been dropped to 20 due to a change in European law which requires the level of UVA protection to be at least 1/3 of the level of UVB protection. However, this is still the same formulation as the factor 25 product - it protects children's skin well and is both pleasant and light (it is the lightest of the three products reviewed here).
This product uses both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the main ingredients for protecting young skin against the sun. It is water-resistant and includes liquorice and evening primrose oil to nourish and calm the skin.
Badger Factor 30 Sunscreen for Children
For the purpose of a fair review, I would like to point out that, whilst Badger Factor 30 Sunscreen is a product I have tried in the past, I have not used it as recently as either Organic Children or Lavera. Therefore, it is likely that the product has since been updated. I have researched more recent information regarding thecurrent ingredients of Badger sun products, however, my personal experience is not recent.
I found Badger to be a product which protected my child's skin to a high level, resulting in no redness or irritation. However, because it is quite a thick and heavy cream, it did leave a very noticeable whiteness, which meant my son looked a little like a ghost on hot, sunny days. When we tried Badger, he was fairly young and therefore less bothered about this (probably didn't even know) - now that he is older I know that he would absolutely refuse to wear it as he likes his sun protection to be as invisible as possible.
Badger uses zinc oxide as its key ingredient for protection against the sun. Zinc is an excellent barrier against harmful UVA and UVB rays - in fact, it is generally considered better than titanium dioxode when it comes to reflecting UVA rays. Badger certainly seem to care about the opinion of their customers, as they now use non-nano, uncoated zinc oxide due to parental requests. Although zinc oxide provides good defence against the sun, high concentrations do tend to leave a white sheen to the skin.
Badger produce factor 30 sunscreens for both the whole family and for babies. Both products contain gentle, pure ingredients which protect against free radials, such as cocoa butter, olive oil, shea butter, chamomile, vitamin E and seabuckthorn berry.
Badger sunscreens are water resistant for at least 40 minutes.
The top spot does to GreenPeople's Organic Children, with Lavera Sun Spray a close second.