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Safer Sunscreen for Children with Eco Child Care

Eco Child Care wants to make sure all childcare providers and parents know about the importance of healthy sunscreen and its use for the whole family. It is important to practice good sun safety for you and your children while outdoors enjoying the weather!

What is sunscreen made of?

The active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different mechanism for protecting skin. The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of the following ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use ingredients such as zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Some “broad spectrum” products combine zinc oxide with chemical filters.

Is sunscreen toxic?

Some of the active ingredients, especially chemical filters, found in many common sunscreen products have been linked with health concerns. For example, oxybenzone has been linked to allergic skin reactions. There is also evidence that certain chemical filters (such as oxybenzone and octinoxate) mimic, interact or interfere with human sex or thyroid hormones.

The Environmental Working Group has reviewed the existing data and comprised a table of human exposure and toxicity for the nine most commonly used, FDA-approved sunscreen chemicals.

To view, please visit:

What about Nanoparticles and Mineral Sunscreens?

Though mineral filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the preferred choice for sun protection there are potential health risks related to the use of nanoparticles (very tiny or microscopic materials) in personal care products. Most mineral sunscreens are made up of nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Some studies show that nanoparticles can harm organs when administered in large amounts. To date, research has shown no evidence that zinc oxide nanoparticles can penetrate the skin in significant amounts. All available research shows that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can be safely used in sunscreen lotions and that both pose a lower health hazard than most other sunscreen ingredients approved in U.S.

Thus we strongly encourage caregivers to avoid the use of SPRAY sunscreens using titanium dioxide or zinc oxide or chemical filters.


Inactive Ingredients are important too

It is important to pay attention to the inactive ingredients in sunscreen as well because they often make up more of the sunscreen than active ingredients do. For example, the preservative methylisothiazolinone is of particular concern to health.

Important: The benefits of protection afforded by sunscreen use against UV radiation outweigh the concerns above about some sunscreen ingredients. Always use sunscreen to protect yourself and your children. Here are some tips on benefitting from sunscreen’s protection while minimizing your exposure to potentially harmful ingredients.

Tips for safer sunscreen use:

Protection mechanism

  • Use mineral-based sunscreens such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide

  • Avoid sunscreens that use chemical filters like oxybenzone, octinoxate, or methylisothiazolinone as the active ingredient

  • Broad-spectrum products offer coverage of both UVA and UVB radiation but they often use chemical filters

Application method

  • Use lotions and sunscreen sticks

  • Avoid aerosol containers to prevent inhalation of the sunscreen (microscopic airborne particles)

  • Avoid SPFs higher than 50 (these products don’t necessarily offer better protection and can mislead consumers into staying in the sun longer)

  • Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure

  • Follow label instructions for the frequency of repeated applications

  • Sunscreen should not be used on infants under 6 months, and therefore they should be kept out of the sun

  • Adults should apply sunscreen to children to avoid accidental ingestion of harmful chemicals and to ensure correct application of the product

  • Do not use combination bug spray-sunscreen products, as you will most likely need to reapply sunscreen--leading to over-application of the bug repellent

Other tips for sun protection include wearing light-weight, long-sleeve shirts and pants AND always wearing a hat if you plan on being outside in the sun. Sunglasses are also a must to protect your eyes. Make sure the sunglasses are UV protected so they are actively safeguarding your eyes from harmful UV rays. Polarized sunglasses provide even better protection from glare, especially from water, and can keep your eyes safer and healthier.

Organize outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the sun’s most intense rays. Finally, if you do need to be outside in the middle of the day, find some shade to cool off and protect your skin.






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