Inside: Everything you need to know about sunscreen to be safe this summer. The differences between chemical vs mineral sunscreen, sunscreen expiration information and how long sunscreen lasts.
As I sit down to update this article about mineral sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen, it is 80 degrees, clear and perfectly sunny outside my house. We definitely need sunscreen today.
And, since it is still May, you may not have purchased new sunscreen yet for this year, so you’re wondering, “Does Sunscreen expire?” or “How long does sunscreen last?” and many other questions.
If you follow me on social media, you know that I’m a little freaked out about this chemical sunscreen thing. What chemical sunscreen thing, you ask?
Well, I’ll recap. Basically, researchers discovered that the chemicals that are in many of the sunscreens that we use are absorbed into the skin.
This can happen within 24 hours of applying. So, I am in the market for the best safe, chemical-free sunscreen for kids. Our summer fun depends on it! You can’t work on your summer bucket list if you don’t have sunscreen.
One researcher even stated: “When sunscreens were first evaluated by the FDA back in the ’70s, we all thought the ingredients sat on the surface of the skin and didn’t do anything,” says Dr. Theresa Michele, director of the division of nonprescription drug products in the office of new drugs at the Center for Drug Evaluation Research at the FDA. “But we’ve learned over the years that’s not actually the case, so we started looking at them more closely.”
Yikes! Since my kid refuses to wear a sun hat, we rely upon sunscreen.
What Sunscreens are Safe for Kids?
And, doctors from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said this: Pediatricians and dermatologists recommend using physical or mineral sunscreens (those with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) with young children and anyone with dry skin or eczema. They also caution against using spray-application sunscreen, which might be inhaled.
As with anything, I am not a doctor nor do I play one on the internet. If you have concerns about your sunscreen, talk with your child’s pediatrician.
I bet many moms already use natural and organic sunscreen because their kids have sensitive skin, skin allergies or eczema.
Does Sunscreen Expire?
Yes, sunscreen can expire. Sunscreen typically has an expiration date printed on the packaging or bottle. The expiration date is usually determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirement for sunscreens to be stable and effective for at least three years.
However, some sunscreens may have a shorter expiration period, especially if they contain certain ingredients that may degrade more quickly.
Using expired sunscreen is not recommended, as the effectiveness of the product may be compromised. Over time, the active ingredients in sunscreen can degrade, making the product less effective at protecting your skin from harmful UV rays.
Additionally, expired sunscreen may not spread evenly on the skin or may cause skin irritation.
To ensure adequate protection, it’s best to check the expiration date before using sunscreen. If the sunscreen has expired or if you’re unsure of its expiration date, it’s advisable to discard it and purchase a new one.
Remember to store sunscreen properly, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, as this can help maintain its effectiveness for longer.
Avon’s Skin So Soft line of products offers everything you’d need for your kids this summer.
- safe, mineral based sunscreen
- bug repellant for mosquitoes and ticks (my son has gotten cellulitis from bug bites, twice!)
How Long Does Sunscreen Last?
The lifespan of sunscreen can vary depending on several factors, including the formulation, storage conditions, and the expiration date indicated on the product.
Generally, sunscreens are designed to remain effective for about three years from the date of manufacture, as mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, it’s important to note that certain factors can affect the longevity of sunscreen:
- Expiration date: Check the date printed on the packaging or bottle. It indicates the time until which the sunscreen is guaranteed to be effective if stored properly.
- Storage conditions: Sunscreen should be stored in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight. Exposure to heat and excessive temperature fluctuations can accelerate the degradation of the product.
- Usage: The frequency of use and the amount of sunscreen applied can affect how long a bottle lasts. If you use sunscreen generously and frequently, you may need to replace it more often.
- Visible changes: Pay attention to any noticeable changes in the product’s texture, consistency, or odor. If the sunscreen appears clumpy, separated, or has an off smell, it’s best to discard it, regardless of the expiration date.
To ensure maximum sun protection, it’s recommended to use fresh sunscreen and reapply it as directed, especially after swimming, sweating, or extended sun exposure.
Remember that using expired sunscreen or inadequate sun protection can increase the risk of sunburn and skin damage.
Mineral Sunscreen vs Chemical Sunscreen
Mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen are two different types of sunscreens that provide sun protection through different mechanisms. Here’s an overview of their differences:
- Active Ingredients:
- Mineral Sunscreen: Mineral sunscreens use physical blockers, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as their active ingredients. These minerals work by sitting on the surface of the skin and reflecting or scattering UV rays away from the skin.
- Chemical Sunscreen: Chemical sunscreens contain organic compounds, such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, or octinoxate, as their active ingredients. These chemicals absorb UV rays and convert them into heat, which is then released from the skin.
- Application and Appearance:
- Mineral Sunscreen: Mineral sunscreens often leave a visible white cast on the skin due to the presence of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. However, newer formulations have minimized this effect, and some mineral sunscreens now come in tinted options.
- Chemical Sunscreen: Chemical sunscreens are typically transparent and absorb into the skin more easily without leaving a white residue. They tend to have a thinner consistency, making them easier to spread.
- Sun Protection:
- Mineral Sunscreen: Mineral sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection, meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. They offer immediate protection upon application since they act as a physical barrier on the skin.
- Chemical Sunscreen: Chemical sunscreens also provide broad-spectrum protection, but their effectiveness may take some time to kick in, usually requiring about 20 minutes for the ingredients to fully absorb and provide optimal protection.
- Sensitivity and Allergies:
- Mineral Sunscreen: Mineral sunscreens are generally considered suitable for sensitive skin since they are less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are often used in baby sunscreens due to their gentle nature.
- Chemical Sunscreen: Some people with sensitive skin may experience skin irritation or allergies when using chemical sunscreens, particularly due to ingredients like oxybenzone. However, most individuals can use chemical sunscreens without any issues.
It’s worth noting that both mineral and chemical sunscreens have undergone safety testing and are considered effective for sun protection. The choice between them often comes down to personal preference, skin sensitivity, and desired application characteristics.
Ultimately, the most important aspect is to select a sunscreen that suits your needs and provides adequate protection against harmful UV rays.
Mineral Sunscreen that Doesn’t Have all that White to it
Let’s be honest–the reason we don’t use mineral sunscreens is because of how they look. They give you a whitish film or bluish color to your face that just isn’t appealing.
But, there are mineral sunscreens available in the market that are formulated to minimize the white cast typically associated with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Many brands have developed tinted mineral sunscreens or have incorporated iron oxides to help counteract the white appearance and blend more seamlessly with various skin tones.
These tinted mineral sunscreens can provide a more natural-looking finish.
Additionally, some mineral sunscreens now offer “sheer” or “invisible” formulations that have smaller particle sizes of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These smaller particles can reduce the visibility of the white cast, making them less noticeable on the skin.
When searching for mineral sunscreens with reduced white cast, look for terms like “tinted,” “sheer,” “invisible,” or “non-whitening” on the product labels or descriptions. It’s also helpful to read reviews or consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional for recommendations tailored to your skin type and complexion.
Remember that individual experiences can vary, and it’s a good idea to try out different options to find a mineral sunscreen that suits your preferences and provides effective sun protection without leaving a noticeable white residue on your skin.
Chemical Free Sunscreen
The following brands of sunscreen have options that are mineral-based. I am no longer buying chemical-based sun protection.
There are other precautions like wearing hats, SPF shirts and staying out of the sun during prime hours.
- Sun Bum
- Ulta store brand
- La Roche-Posay
- Bare Republic
- Pediatrician Recommended: From the #1 pediatrician recommended sunscreen brand(2), this Coppertone sunscreen is hypoallergenic and free of fragrance, dyes, PABA, octinoxate and oxybenzone
- Zinc Oxide Sunscreen: This Coppertone kids sunscreen is made with 100% naturally sourced Zinc Oxide, plus nourishing extracts (tea leaf, sea kelp, and lotus)
- Gentle Protection: Gentle sunscreen delivers Broad Spectrum UVA and UVB protection
- Water Resistant: Coppertone water resistant sunscreen (80 minutes) is perfect for family fun in the sun
- One (1) 5 ounce bottle of Coppertone Pure and Simple Kids Spray Sunscreen
- SAFE, NATURAL PROTECTION: Thinkbaby sunscreen provides effective SPF 50+ sun protection for babies. The broad spectrum UVA & UVB baby sunblock is suitable for daily use on infants’ sensitive skin, offering gentle defense against the sun’s rays.
- EASY APPLICATION: The hydrating sun cream is quick and easy to apply to even the most active babies, and protection begins instantly. The fast absorbing kids sun lotion won’t leave skin feeling oily or sticky, and has no unpleasant chemical scent.
- CLEAN MINERAL FORMULA: The first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements, Thinkbaby vegan, Leaping Bunny certified sun creams contain no PABA, parabens, phthalates, BPA, oxybenzone, avobenzone, petroleum, gluten, dairy, or toxic chemicals.
- WATER RESISTANT: Your baby can splash, swim and play in the water safely. Our children’s sun cream provides the highest water resistance per the FDA, offering babies continuous protection for up to 80 minutes in the pool or sea before the sunscreen should be re-applied.
- Accurate Ingredient List: Our updated packaging guarantees precise ingredient listings while preserving our unchanged formulas. Rest assured, there have been no changes to our ingredients. Our fragrance is derived solely from natural oils, ensuring a pleasant scent without any harmful effects. Note: "Natural Fragrance Oils" simply describes the natural oils used to provide a delightful aroma.
- 𝗖𝗘𝗥𝗧𝗜𝗙𝗜𝗘𝗗 𝗢𝗥𝗚𝗔𝗡𝗜𝗖 𝗦𝗨𝗡𝗦𝗖𝗥𝗘𝗘𝗡: We are proud to have been mentioned in Forbes 2023 as one of the best sunscreens, solidifying our commitment to providing high-quality products. Additionally, we are EWG verified, ensuring that our SUNSCREEN meets the strict standards set by the Environmental Working Group.
- 𝗣𝗢𝗪𝗘𝗥𝗙𝗨𝗟 𝗦𝗨𝗡 𝗣𝗥𝗢𝗧𝗘𝗖𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡: Provides highly effective SPF 50 broad spectrum UVA & UVB protection that is both water and sweat resistant. Gentle enough for baby’s sensitive skin yet strong enough coverage for kids and adults.
- 𝗖𝗢𝗥𝗔𝗟 𝗥𝗘𝗘𝗙 𝗦𝗔𝗙𝗘: We care deeply about our oceans and environment, so our products and ingredients are always biodegradable and coral reef friendly.
- 𝗡𝗢 𝗙𝗥𝗔𝗚𝗥𝗔𝗡𝗖𝗘 & 𝗖𝗛𝗘𝗠𝗜𝗖𝗔𝗟 𝗙𝗥𝗘𝗘: Fragrance free formula that is gentle on your skin and free from all chemicals found in most sunscreens making it ideal for delicate or sensitive skin. Note that natural oils and organic ingredients separate, so massage the tube to mix ingredients before application.
- 𝗠𝗜N𝗘𝗥𝗔𝗟 / 𝗭𝗜𝗡𝗖 𝗦𝗨𝗡𝗦𝗖𝗥𝗘𝗘𝗡: Extra thick formula with 25% Zinc Oxide helps to prevent sunburns and help decrease the risk of skin damage and early skin aging caused by the sun. Leaves a thin white layer allowing you to see where you’re covered.
- #1 pediatrician recommended mineral-based sunscreen brand with broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 50+ - Mineral active Zinc Oxide provides broad spectrum protection
- We love the reef sunscreen – Contains no Oxybenzone and no Octinoxate to help protect delicate coral reefs
- Always mineral-based – Combining mineral and chemical UV protectors for water-resistant performance you can trust
- Paraben-free and fragrance-free – Contains no fragrances or parabens, making it ideal for sensitive skin
- Water resistant and sweat resistant – Up to 80 minutes water resistance, so you stay protected longer
- 100% GOOD FOR YOU & YOUR FAMILY: A fast-absorbing, ultra-sheer & lightweight sunblock for delicate skin. Water resistant and perfect for babies, kids and adults alike.
- FORMULATED FOR VERY SENSITIVE SKIN: This sunscreen is specifically developed with zinc to provide you with 80 minutes of water and sweat resistant coverage. Safe for baby and perfect for the entire family. Fragrance free.
- ZINC-BASED, MINERAL FORMULA: Specially formulated to naturally protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, this sunblock is oxybenzone and octinoxate free. Enriched with Babo's organic Nutri-Soothe Complex.
- NO HARSH CHEMICALS OR IRRITANTS: Dermatologist tested to reduce risk of allergic reactions. Clinically tested and rated number #1 in safety by Environment Working Group (EWG). Gluten, soy, dairy, peanut, almond, walnut free. Made in USA. B Corp Certified.
- GENTLE ENOUGH FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY: Shake the bottle well and apply liberally 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply after swimming, sweating, or towel drying, and at least every 2 hours.
- Easy-to-apply – Spray and rub into skin for mineral sun protection that is easy to use and dries clear
- USE PIPETTE SUNSCREEN FOR BABIES: Apply our SPF 50 to protect your baby’s delicate skin from the sun’s harmful rays. This baby-friendly, reef-friendly natural sunscreen uses 100% mineral, non-nano zinc oxide for broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection, making it a perfect infant sunscreen.
- USE PIPETTE SUNSCREEN FOR TODDLERS: The lightweight, fast-absorbing, non-sticky formula of this toddler sunscreen rubs in easily—crucial for on-the-move little ones! Plant extracts also moisturize and calm the effect of infrared rays.
- USE PIPETTE SUNSCREEN FOR KIDS: This kids sunscreen contains 100% sugarcane-derived squalane to help sunscreen glide on smoothly. This weightless, moisturizing sensitive-skin sunscreen for kids’ face and body makes a great daily kids’ sunblock.
- USE PIPETTE SUNSCREEN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY: Use our mineral sunscreen as baby sunscreen, natural toddler sunscreen, kid’s sunscreen lotion, or mineral sunscreen for adults. A multi-tasking sunblock that works for the whole family's skin protection!
- Pipette products are created with the support of biologists, pediatricians & dermatologists, and are rigorously tested to ensure they're gentle and safe for babies. All formulas are hypoallergenic, free of synthetic fragrances, cruelty-free & vegan.
- 3-fluid ounce travel-size tube of Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion with broad spectrum SPF 50 for superior protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays for your child's skin
- This effective mineral sunscreen lotion is formulated with friendly ingredients for sensitive skin and applies to kids' skin easily to lock in moisture without stinging. It's suitable for use on both the face and body
- Specially formulated for children's delicate skin, it contains naturally-sourced 100% zinc oxide active and skin-soothing oat, and is both sweat-resistant and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes of continuous protection
- From the pediatrician-recommended brand, this kids hypoallergenic sunscreen lotion for sensitive skin features a tear-free formula that is non-greasy, paraben-free, phthalate-free and fragrance-free
- Use this mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide on your children during outdoor activities with the family to help prevent sunburn. Reapply after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, immediately after towel drying and at least every 2 hours
Dangers of Chemical Sunscreen
If the CHOP doctors don’t convince you to switch to mineral sunscreen, maybe this will.
- Key West is banning sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate due to the damage they’ve caused to coral reefs and ocean life.
- Hawaii has banned the same chemicals for the same reasons.
- Other countries including Palau, Mexico and Bonaire are doing the same.
- Some of these chemicals are known hormone/endocrine disruptors.( Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with endocrine systems at certain doses. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. wiki )
- These active sunscreen chemicals have not been studied much, if at all.
- Many of our kids are medically complex, medically fragile, have different genetic makeup than the general public, and are on multiple medications. Is it dangerous? We just don’t know.
What sunscreen chemicals to avoid?
According to the website BanToxicSunscreens, these are the chemicals they say you should avoid. I’ve only read up on a few of them, but I am not using any sunscreen for my kids if it contains these chemicals.
Especially Kevin, since he is on multiple medications for his seizure disorder.
- Cocamide DEA
- Propylene Glycol
For now, I have purchased the Avon sunscreens for our family. I also have ordered us new hats and SPF shirts from Lands End. Happy Summer!
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