Because we’re avid travelers and Southern California residents, sunscreen is a regular part of our routine. I’m grateful to have partnered with Sunology, a brand of natural sunscreen that we use, to talk about how families can enjoy the sun safely at home and on vacation as well as why the type of sunscreen we use is so important.

It’s estimated that 80% of sun damage occurs before the age of 20 and experts warn that prevention of melanoma begins in the pediatric years. However, even in health-conscious Southern California, many parents go to great lengths to buy organic food and keep things like artificial coloring an to a minimum without paying particularly close attention to ingredients in the sunscreen we slather liberally over our largest organ—skin. Perhaps it’s because we’re thinking that any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen and it’s been around for so long that how can it possibly be a health risk?

Parents need to be aware of the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens. After researching this topic, I can honestly tell you that I’m never buying a chemical sunscreen ever again. Here is why.

How Chemical Sunscreen Works

Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that reduce the amount of ultraviolet radiation that penetrates the skin. They do not block ultraviolet radiation completely,  but are the most commonly available sun protection sold on the market today. Chemical sunscreens are typically clear (such as the spray-on type) and leave a thin visible film on the skin.

But, chemical sunscreens don’t stay on the skin. They eventually soak into the bloodstream. Because they aren’t removed from the body via natural detoxification, these chemicals can be detected in breast milk, urine and blood up to two days later.

The Dangers of Chemical Sunscreen

According to Dr. Oz, the FDA has approved 17 individual sunscreen ingredients. Fifteen of these are clear chemicals that absorb UV light while the remaining two mineral ingredients used in physical sunscreens reflect light. Nine of the 15 chemical sunscreen ingredients are considered to be endocrine disruptors that interfere with the normal functioning of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid. Disruption of these hormones can translate into abnormal development such as early puberty for kids and cancer.

Therefore, concern is rising among experts that chemical sunscreens may be damaging to long-term health. Some of the ingredients in chemical sunscreen have been linked to minor skin irritation such as eczema. More studies need to be done, but my attitude is why risk it when there are good alternatives.

Why Physical Sunscreen May Be Safer

Physical sunscreens contain ingredients like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide that actually block ultraviolet radiation, which is why these sunscreens are often called sunblocks (though the FDA no longer allows the term sunblock to be used as a descriptor for sunscreen). These two ingredients are actually rocks that are ground into a very fine consistency that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Physical sunscreens aren’t typically absorbed into the bloodstream and have been around for a long time. People weren’t keen on using them because they went on white and were more difficult to wash off.

I use past tense because there are new and improved physical sunscreens that are cosmetically so transparent that they can be worn on a daily basis to work, school, gym and beyond without anyone noticing. And, you won’t feel like you’re wearing sunscreen.

Sunology Is Physical Sunscreen that Goes on Clear for Daily Wear

sunology natural sunscreen for kids

Sunology uses a special grade of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that is white in the tube but invisible after application, while protecting skin from UVA and UVB radiation. Sunology is free of harmful man-made sunscreen ingredients but does have a special skin nourishing agent to help decrease wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation and dryness. This means you get the benefit of sun protection while enhancing skin health.

My recently photo-shy daughter (hence my other child posing above) wears Sunology Sunscreen for Kids every day to school and hasn’t burned yet except for one time I totally missed a spot on the side of her forehead—this is how I know it works). Sunology for Kids, Sunology for Body and Sunology for Face area all SPF 50. Each product received top ratings from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) 2014 Sunscreen Guide.

The founder of Sunology, Richard Doermer, created the product after being diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. He had been a faithful user of chemical sunscreens for 26 years and thought there might be a better solution using natural active ingredients. Sunology was born.

Where to Buy Sunology

This is the easy part. Sunology is available through their website, Whole Foods Markets no the East and West Coasts, Amazon and Target, just to name a few. Grab some before you head out to the beach this weekend and let me know how you like it. I just threw away all of our chemical sunscreen. Will you?

Stay tuned for more advice regarding how to teach your kids about the sun and more.


Medical Express
Dr. Oz

Katie Dillon headshot

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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