Angela’s Sunscreen Review

by Angela on July 12, 2011

The heat in Florida in the middle of June was pretty brutal this year.  But on our trip to Disney, it was a great opportunity to test out all the new sunscreens I had recently purchased.  My goal was to find a sunscreen I liked that was safe, effective, didn’t cost me an arm and a leg, and was easy to find (no online shopping or driving to specialty stores).  So I purchased all these from common grocery or household stores, which makes them easily accessible and fairly inexpensive.

I was the sunscreen Nazi when I was on vacation and applied it to my kids, myself and my hubby religiously everyday, and I’m happy to report we escaped with minimal amount of redness.   So the effectiveness of all of these seemed to be good, so my review is more on the consistency, ease of use and smell.  As a reminder, the EWG rating comes from the Environmental Working Group’s 2011 sunscreen study based on several factors with 0-2 being low hazard, 3-6 moderate hazard and 7-10 high hazard.  So, without further ado, in alphabetical order, my collection of sunscreens this summer:

Alba Botanica Fragrance Free SPF 30 (4 oz.)

alba botanica

EWG rating 4, $3.99 on sale from Wegmans:  Well the clear bonus on this one was the price, but it happened to be on sale.  It was originally $6.49, so still pretty inexpensive.  When I looked at the ingredients, I noticed several active ingredients I had never heard of, one being homosalate.  After googling, I found that it “behaved like a strong estrogen in lab tests” which, for someone who had estrogen-positive breast cancer, raised a huge red flag for me.   This is probably why the rating is in the moderate level category.  But the consistency was great and rubbed in nicely.  I personally won’t buy it again because of the ingredients, but it’s not a high hazard sunscreen and can be found pretty cheap.

Aveeno Baby Natural Mineral Block SPF 30 (3 oz.)

aveeno tube

EWG rating 4, $10.99 from Target:  I really liked this one.  It’s still not in the low hazard category, but if you’re comfortable with the moderate level risk, this isn’t a bad option.  Why have I looked past “baby” products now that I no longer have babies in the house?  It’s not like I’m forbidden to buy them, and if something is gentle enough for a baby, why can’t we use it on our older kids or even our own skin?  I really liked how this one rubbed in (no looking like the ghost of Christmas past after putting this one on).   As a side note, there is an “adult” product like this one in their Aveeno Active Naturals line with an EWG rating of 3 (mainly because it provides better sun protection).  I will look for that one next time I’m in the store.

Aveeno Baby Natural Mineral Block Face Stick SPF 50 (.47 oz.)

aveeno stick

EWG rating 1, $8.99 from Target:  This is the same line as the one above, but the rating is lower (first low hazard rating, yay!).  The stick had a better score on UVA and UVB protection than it’s lotion counterpart.  Some of the other common grocery store sunscreen sticks out there (I’m  not going to name any names) have a rating of 7…yikes!  But the best part about the stick?  My 7-year-old can apply it himself on his face and ears, while I tackle the 4-year-old (well not literally “tackle” him, although sometimes it feels that way when I’m trying to apply sunscreen!).  As you can imagine, a sunscreen stick is not very practical for the whole body, but definitely consider this one for face application and to throw in your purse for quick touchups. 

Badger Lightly Scented Lavendar SPF 30 (2.9 oz.)


EWG rating 1, $10.99 from Wegmans:  This isn’t one of the real common ones, but I had heard of it before and when I saw it grocery shopping, I thought I’d check it out.  The rating on this one is awesome, but I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of it.  I bought the lightly scented lavender one, and the smell wasn’t appealing to me.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t think the scent went along with the whole summer, pool, beach and vacation vibe.  But also, this one was very thick and hard to rub in.  It’s active ingredient is 18.75% of zinc, which is the highest of all the sunscreens I own.  I think putting it on myself was okay, but it was just too hard to rub in on constantly moving, always wiggling, very active little boys.  I’ll finish out the tube but not sure I’ll buy it again.   

Coppertone Sensitive Skin Faces SPF 50 (2 oz.)

coppertone facesEWG rating 3, $7.89 from Target:  Up until I discovered how beneficial the sunscreen stick was to my precious time, this one was my sunscreen of choice for my kids’ faces all summer.  The thing that sold me was it states that it “won’t sting eyes & skin” which is always an issue with sunscreen on the face.  It rubs in nicely and the whole week in Disney left my kids sunburn-free on their face, ears and neck.  The EWG rating is in the moderate level of risk, but it’s the lowest rating in that category, which I am comfortable with.  I will probably continue to buy this one.

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby SPF 60 (3 oz.)

neutrogena lotion EWG rating 7, $9.99 from Target:  Yikes!  I had no idea the EWG rating on this one was so high until I looked it up just now.  When I purchased it, I assumed “pure & free” and “baby” were sure signs it would be a lower rating.  I guess I was wrong.  But as for other factors, this sunscreen worked well for us too, rubbed in nicely.  But now that I know the rating, I think there are better options for me and my family.

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Stick SPF 60 (.47 oz.)

neutrogena stick EWG rating 3, $8.99 from Target:  Once again, the stick received a lower hazard rating than it’s lotion counterpart.  This was because of the UVA/UVB protection factor.  It worked just as well as the Aveeno stick, but if I’m being picky about sunscreen sticks, I think I will stick with the Aveeno brand. 

So that’s my arsenal of sunscreens and what I thought of them.  My intention is not to put down any of these brands and I am clearly not getting paid to promote any of them.  I just wanted to share what I’ve learned and my personal opinion.  If it helps at least one of you make a more informed choice when shopping, then I’m happy.  🙂

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