I felt this was a good time to talk about sunscreens because many of you are on vacation as we speak... and the rest of us are here at our desks slaving away... at any rate, we all run out to the sun in the summertime (ya-hoo! can't wait!) and I found an interesting article in this months W magazine where they report on sun protection. Did you know that since 1978 the FDA has been trying to finalize a monograph, or set of rules, governing UVA and UVB sunscreens? It seems it's comes down to a lot of red tape and there was a close monograph published in 1999 but it did not cover the issue of UVA. And while it looks as though something will be brought forward this year (finally) the new packaging will not be seen in stores until 2011.

Currently, the US 'SPF' system only looks at the UVB light (these are the rays that cause sunburn), the new system will be looking both at UVA and UVB rays (UVA = wrinkles but can also lead to skin cancer). Europe, Asia and just about everyone else has a system in place already that looks at both UVA and UVB rays. The cap on the new system will put SPF protection at 50+ (UVB) and then there will be a star system that rates the UVA rays (from one to four stars). There is also a discussion about the word "waterproof" yes, it seems that a product is not 'waterproof' if you swim in a pool all day and then jump out and wipe it (yourself) off with a towel... oops you just wiped off your sun protection. Waterproof will be replaced with the term 'very water resistant'.

Well because W magazine is W magazine they can't upset any of their advertisers and tell you that most of these US made sun protection products are full of chemicals anyhow, we will just tell you what what we do...in our family we just don't use them and we stick with only Dr. Hauschka sun protection--it follows all of the European standards so I also feel that it has safer labeling (it says "very water resistant" already). And you may crucify me for this but we usually put Dr. Hauschka on in the morning (before we leave the house so that it can soak in a bit, it's so expensive this all we can afford!). This is usually it for sun protection for the day, now we do not spend the hours of noon - 3pm at the beach so this usually works for us (both of my kids have never had a sunburn) and I feel that the vitamin D they get from the sun later in the day is better than blocking out all of the sun completely from their skin. I must add that we live in Rhode Island and I think the California sun, and the like, have a completely different story (so please share with us what YOU do all of you Californians!). But I think it's important to have some time in the sun without products (yes, this is usually at about 4-5pm so the sun is not so harsh) but it's healthy. (oh, I can just feel some comments coming on... I know this is a sore subject!) So please comment and let us know 'what' you are using, 'how long' you use it, if you don't what do you do... all of that!

and now some real NEWS:
as I went to make the link for you to the Dr. Hauschka website to buy their sun care products I found this bit of alarming information:

New European regulations for sunscreens will soon require levels of UVA protection that are impossible to achieve with natural mineral sun filters such as the titanium dioxide in Dr.Hauschka Sunscreens. In order to meet the requirements of these new regulations and maintain our products' SPF ratings, we would be forced to reformulate using synthetic filters.

Our unwavering dedication to pure, holistic skin care and BDIH guidelines for natural ingredients prevent us from using synthetic sun filters in our preparations. As a result, Dr.Hauschka Skin Care has made the difficult decision to discontinue our existing sun care range.

As of January 1, 2009, Dr.Hauschka Sun Care products will no longer be available in the U.S.



Rebecca Walker said...

my goodness carina, how awful! i have hausckha's sun sticks in my bag at the moment and we live in hawaii so REALLY NEED IT. i have found another one that's love tho--Pratima Neem Rose sunscreen SPF 30 and says it blocks UVB and UVA--who knows, but it's wonderful. not as thick as hauschka, and smells much nicer. the whole line is quite nice. sending warmth from across the world. x

d said...

I have not heard anything like this here in Europe - Maybe they still sell it here - it would be a great pleasure for me to be your very personal Dr.Hauschka Sun Care-provider from Vienna, Europe - just let me know!
kindest regards

lesley said...

I don't know what brand we use. I normally just pick something up from Whole Foods and honestly don't spend a lot of time reading it. Now I will pay more attention! I have heard the synthetic sunscreens are damaging the coral in the ocean. We also normally just apply when we get to the beach and forget to keep reapplying unless we are there much longer than usual.

sylvie said...

Sighhhhhhh!!.I do not put sunscreen on my children(they never had a sunburn)Like you, I have the same outdoor schedule during the day not between 11am and 15h00. I believe what they eat is also important in sun protection(lots of beta-carotene....) I use HEIKO sunscreen when we are on vacation in the south and in the sun all day, but it`s still not the best for me. I really prefer no sunscreen at all. I am working on an organic skincare line for babies back in Canada and it is so difficult to remind people(goverment especially)that what nature does for us is not harmull to us but chemicals are what is accepted nonetheless.....lots of work to be done as you know....

Anonymous said...

Hi Carina, Thanks for always sharing all of your knowledge and little tips - I love reading them and hope you continue for a long long time! I wanted to add my 2 cents here as I am one of your California clients and both of my sons are very fair skinned, so I have done extensive research on the sunblock options. A nice place to start is by reading the Environmental Working Group's sunscreen rating guide: here is the link: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/special/sunscreens2008/index.php?nothanks=1
They basically have done all the dirty work of not only making sure the sunscreens they list are safe, but also that they are EFFECTIVE. As most of us know, on little kids (and us) the best thing to do is to put a physical block on(which ends up being thick and pasty generally, so hard to get on them!) I have tried many of these and I have to say my favorite is the VANICREAM brand, which I never see in stores, but you can google it and find it - dermatologists sell it. It is not pasty and thick, it has no bad chemicals in it, no fragrance, it is oil-free, and it really works, AND (ready?) it is CHEAP. For a huge tube, it's like 7 bucks or something. I hope this is helpful for some of you looking for a great sunblock for your kids - its my favorite and I am always singing it's praises to all my mama friends. Thanks for bringing up this topic, it's an important one.

karen said...

aarrggghhh! i went to buy dr. hauschka sunscreen (i only buy the kids' one and share that with my daughter also because of the price) before a trip down south last month and discovered that it was no longer sold in canada, with no further explanation from retailers. it is one of the few sunscreens i can use, because i have an insensitivity to the preservatives and chemicals. i bought a brand called "lavera" which is supposed to quite "natural" but it leaves that scary bluish tint on you, not so lovely while sporting a bikini on the beach.

i find it ludicrous that people find cancer-causing chemicals more acceptable than something as natural as sunlight. sensibility and common sense, like not going out during peak hours and laying out in the sun drenched in oil, makes more sense, no?

ariana said...

It can be tricky to block the rays and still look nonchalant at the same time.I live in San Francisco and we have strong sun. I use Vanicream on days when I know that we will be fully exposed to noon-mid-day sunshine. But I swear by the hat. I think that the best way to protect the skin is to use a wide brim canvas hat. We have a bugaboo bee stroller and one of the accessories is a sun shade which blocks 60-65% UV rays. We rarely use it mainly because the hat is enough, but also because the shade is awkward to apply to the stroller and weird in appearance. It seemed like the right idea to have this type of shade but the design is just not practical.

Adriana Velez said...

I agree with the commenter who mentioned the EWG "skin deep" database. That's a great source. I've been using Paul Thomas Roth and California Baby unscented stick. I think there are good options out there. Sad to hear about the new European standards, though!

Anonymous said...

I also use the EWG guide. When my son got old enough for sunscreen I discovered some of the chemicals in many sunscreens may actually cause skin cancer! My husband has very fair skin and burns very easily so I began studying sunscreen facts and labels. We now use California baby for my son who is somewhat fair, for adults we use Badger sunscreen, they both work GREAT but are thick and need to be rubbed in well. I feel its a small price to pay.

Elizabeth said...

how about california baby sun care products? i think they are chemical free...anyone ever use it?

nonchalant mom said...

I totally forgot about california baby! yes, we use this too and I think they use the same blocking ingredient (natural) as Dr.Hauschka--I will look into California Baby and do a follow story on them very soon! I love them and I don't think that there is anything better than their soaps for kids!
thanks for the comment Elizabeth!

Kim said...

A completely different perspective from me....I live in Queensland, Australia, officially the sun cancer capital of the world. Kids here are smothered in high protection sunscreen just about every day, and most schools/kindergartens/child care centres require application of sunscreen every morning, and often they do it again in the afternoon. Children wear broad brimmed hats, and schools have a 'no hat, no play policy'. Many school uniforms are now made from some dreadful synthetic fabric, which is because it provides additional sun protection. Parents fundraise to provide shade structures in playgrounds, and most schools try to have outdoor play time earlier in the morning, rather than at lunch time. Most oarents know all too well the morning dramas of chasing kids al over the house to make sure they are wearing.

For swimming or the beach, 50+ SPF swim shirts/shorts/suits are de rigeur. There are many more stylish options available now, even for adults. In high summer at Christmas on our favourite beach at Noosa, the scene was a riot of colour, with kids frolicking like an assortment of little lyrca-clad m&ms. You can even buy hats made from this stuff that stay on in the surf. You don't see too many cute bikinis or tanned torsos on display on young children (at least, not kids who live here). We are conscientious about getting off the beach between 10-3, and lots of people have little tents, as well as the usual beach umbrellas (I don't mind these very useful, as our kids don't stay still).
Children of my own generation saw way too much sun, and school photos show universally tanned limbs and freckled faces. We are all paying for it now - quite apart from the skin cancer risk, we look noticeably older for our age than peers from gentler climates. There has been a massive public health campaign over the past 15 or so years 'Slip, slop, slap' (slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat).

If I could happily buy an effective water-resistant chemical free high SPF sunscreen here I would (and will investigate), but trust me, playing or working outside without it is definitely not an option here.

Skeeter said...

Vanicream Sport SPF 35 contains Octinoxate (one of the old standard reef-unfriendly chemicals). Their SPF 30 and SPF 60 lotions are gloriously chem-free, though compared with the products below their lotion base is far from "natural".

Heiko, Elemental Herbs, Badger, California Baby, and Mexitan are all chemical-free mineral blocks.

Apparently Badger doesn't smell too good. I'm just starting to test the Mexitan SPF 30 which is quite reasonably priced and smells mildly like, um, minty white glue.

Elemental Herbs ("Tinted" option) and UV Natural sunscreens both reduce the white-ghost effect of mineral screens with brown iron oxide tinting. Some web reviews say UV Natural is pretty heavy/oily-feeling, and doesn't smell great. It's also pricey.

Abella sunscreens use a small amount of the old chemical Octinoxate, but come in 4 shades of brown tint.

Beware sunscreens that claim "organic" or "natural" ingredients-- read the fine print on the ingredients! For every chemical-free one, I've been astonished to find a ton that try to hide the old nasty chemical ingredients behind a natural label.