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You may believe that higher the SPF factor on your sunscreen, the longer you can stay out in the sun without a risk of sunburn.

SPF numbers like 100 or 150 can give users a false sense of security.

You may also believe that SPF 100 is twice as effective as SPF 50.

Since one in 4 sunscreen products are spray, you may believe that they are just as safe as regular sun lotion.


Being out of sun’s harmful UV rays is important. In 2013 alone, per National Cancer Institute, more than 76,000 men and women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with melanoma and 9,480 are expected to die from the aggressive form of skin cancer. The disease, which is often linked to ultraviolet exposure, is usually curable when detected early.

The SPF number indicates the amount of sun exposure needed to cause sunburn on sunscreen-protected skin compared with unprotected skin.

For example, a SPF rating of 50 means it would take the person 50 times longer to burn wearing sunscreen than with exposed skin.
However high SPF numbers are just a gimmick.
Where an SPF 50 product might protect against 97 percent of sunburn-causing rays, an SPF 100 product might block 98.5 percent of those rays.

In 2011, FDA said that “labeling a product with a specific SPF value higher than 50 would be misleading to the consumer.”


  • · Avoid sunscreens labeled with > 30 (higher) SPF factor. They have no significant benefits. Most people don’t need more than an SPF 30. They should reapply it every couple of hours.
  • · Avoid those labeled “waterproof”. You still need to reapply in a few hours to protect your skin.
  • · Use sunscreen in combination with hats, clothing and shade, which provide better protection against ultraviolet radiation.
  • · FDA is also reviewing spray-on sunscreen to look at whether the sprays can be harmful when inhaled. Don’t buy spray or powder. Use lotions instead.
  • · Avoid products that include oxybenzone (found in 80 percent of chemical sunscreens), which can penetrate the skin, cause allergic reactions, possibly disrupt hormones, and may have a link to a risk of endometriosis and low birth weights.
  • · Avoid retinyl palmitate, a form of anti-oxidant vitamin A that has been said to slow skin aging. It’s been found to possibly speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight.
  • · Safer options block sun with low-risk ingredients such as zinc oxide, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. Find a complete list of chemicals and their risks here.

EWG’s List of Best Sunscreens (with average prices):

Belly Buttons & Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stick, Unscented, SPF 30

Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 30

Vanicream Sport Sunscreen, SPF 35

Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 50+


EWG’s List of Worst Sunscreens:

Well at Walgreens Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50

Vichy Capital Soleil Soft Sheer Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 60

up & up Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

Trader Joe’s Nourish Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50+

Rite Aid Wet Skin Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 70

Neutrogena Wet Skin Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50

Author: TxNaturalPediatrics

By training, I am a American Board Certified Pediatrician. But in my younger years I grew up with natural alternatives. As a mom I have tried to incorporate both for my kids and it has worked wonders. And finally, as I am studying natural & alternative medicines, I realize the beauty and wisdom of living closer to earth. Hence in my practice I integrate both...for acute ailments I follow American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation but for simple and/or chronic conditions I prefer natural alternatives. In western training we were raised to think that "health is the absence of symptoms and problems". But eastern sensibilities has educated me that "Health is state that allows one to use the full capabilities of their body, mind and intellect. Therefore, healthy living is a balanced state of well being: physically, mentally, socially and spiritually." This implies that healing is not a "one-pill-fits-all", but a personalized experience.

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