Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by Johna Jenkins, a nurse practitioner, and the co-founder of our sister brand A Plan for Health.
These are the best sunscreen recommendations from our resident nurse practitioner!
As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, July is UV Safety Awareness Month. With skin cancer impacting so many people every year, I shared the American Academy of Dermatology’s guidelines to help keep your skin safe.
There is so much information out there about sunscreen. As a mom, I want to make sure I’m doing the best for myself and my family and I know Whitney feels the same. I spent the beginning of the summer testing sunscreens and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites here!
I tried to stay on the “cleaner” side for this experiment. As you veer towards the cleaner end of the sunscreen spectrum, the more expensive the lotions and potions get — I’m often left wondering, is it worth it? How do they work on a real person? I’m here to help by sharing my thoughts and experience with these sunscreens!
I have to mention this is not strict advice. This is my personal experience with these sunscreen products! We all have to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families.
To start, here are the things I look for in sunscreen:
- EWG or Think Dirty rating of 4 or less
- Not greasy
- Dries quickly
- Doesn’t transfer off to everything I touch
- Must not be on the recent “benzene” contamination list
- Most importantly, I DID NOT BURN with the sunscreen being tested! Though, I did reapply every 90 minutes unless otherwise noted.
With those guidelines in mind, I narrowed down my selections for the comparison. Here are the products I tried for this experiment!
Babo Clear Zinc SPF 30 — $11.79 for 3oz. at Target
This has an EWG rating of 2. Although this is technically fragrance-free, there’s still a “smell” to most natural products. The smell of this Babco sunscreen isn’t off-putting! This has a lotion consistency and isn’t as thick as most mineral-based sunscreens. The only downside is you will want to shake the tube before putting it on, otherwise, you may get a separated runny mess in the heat. I’ve had this happen with other mineral sunscreens of this consistency. I thought this worked great! It will take a little work to rub in and you can definitely tell you’ve got sunscreen on your skin. There really isn’t much of a white cast at all. I give this one a thumbs up!
All Good Kids Butter Stick SPF 50 — $13.99 for 2 oz at Target
This has an EWG rating of 1. I like stick sunscreens for the face, especially for kids. I figured this one was like the others I’ve used. I handed it to my son and said, rub this onto your face, neck, back of neck, and ears! He usually does a good job. This stick, however, is not like the others. Most others are a tad dry and you have to “pull” it across the skin to get an acceptable amount on the skin. The word in the name of this sunscreen “butter” definitely describes this well — A LOT comes off with very little effort! It’s like well-melted butter and can make a big mess. I’ll let the picture below of my sweet kiddo speak for itself. If you know this in advance you can easily work with it. With that in mind, I’ll talk about the performance of the sunscreen. My kiddo didn’t complain of his eyes burning and his face didn’t burn at all after an hour of him swimming. In fact, I could still see it on his face, there is indeed a serious white cast. I will continue to use this as it performs well. If you’re looking to avoid a white cast, skip it. If that doesn’t matter to you, this works well!
Thinksport for Kids SPF 50 — $19.28 for 6 oz on Amazon
This has an EWG rating of 2. It has a very slight coconut smell and coconut is indeed in the ingredients! It has a thicker lotion consistency than the Babo. You also have to work harder at rubbing it in than the Babo. While it doesn’t have a straight sticky feel, I can feel it on my skin much longer than I’d like. I think this has to do with the fact that it’s just thicker and the SPF reflects that. The one thing I don’t like about this one is that it gave my skin a grayish cast which I’ve never experienced before. While it’s effective, I’d rather not look gray. I’ll keep using this on the backs of my hands until it’s gone, but won’t repurchase.
Badger Sport SPF 35 — $15.29 for 2.9 oz at Target
This has an EWG rating of 1. I love the Badger company and usually love their products. But, this one is a solid SKIP for me. I found it to be pretty greasy long after I put it on. It rubbed off onto things that I’d bump against or touch. In fact, it was too greasy to continue with a full day’s review because I couldn’t tolerate applying it again after 90 minutes. When it came time for reapplication, I switched to a different option. I’d recommend passing on this particular version of Badger.
Australian Gold Mineral Botanicals SPF 30 — $9.49 for 5 oz at Target
This has the highest, in other words, the worst EWG rating of 4. It also has a fragrance which I usually avoid. A four is my threshold for not going over when it comes to the EWG rating so I gave it a try. I like this sunscreen the best of all for my body when in sandy environments. Why? Because it dries down the fastest, doesn’t make things like sand stick to the body, transfers the least, and has a matte finish. It’s also effective! So, what do I do when sunscreen is not as clean as I like? I use it only when I really want or need to use it. This one is perfect for a beach vacation where I don’t want sand sticking to me. For every day, I’ll use the cleaner choices!
And now for my final thoughts: the best sunscreens for 2021!
Babo Clear Zinc SPF 30 is the best for all-around regular use! For beach or sandy trips my favorite is the Australian Gold Mineral Botanicals Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (although not the “cleanest” so use it in moderation).
This was a lot of fun to try the products out and notice subtle differences in things I might not have noticed before. If you try a sunscreen experiment for yourself, grab this notebook to track all your notes!
These reviews are so fun for me. What other comparison experiments do you want to see? Comment below!
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