Mountain Style: Clean ‘Screens

Best sunscreens

By Christina Shepherd McGuire // Photographs by Paulette Phlipot

I ’m a stickler for clean products. When the kids were babes, it was easy to throw on sunproof suits and stick them in the shade. But now they’re off to camp, with their little bodies exposed, and the last thing we need is burnt skin.

So each year in my quest to find the perfect sunscreens, I consult the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database ( Their hazard rating system screens product ingredients for cancer-causing properties, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and a myriad of other factors and then assigns products a hazard score of 0 to 10. Thankfully, I found a few faves that rate low and are sold locally.

Best Nonwhitening

Elemental Herbs Kid’s Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
3 oz., $15.99, EWG Score = 1

While it comes with a steep price, Elemental Herbs block contains no nanoparticles (microscopic particles that can cross cell membranes). It goes on dry, leaving only a smidge of residue that fades quickly. Combine it with coconut oil to further minimize the whitening and to extend the life of your tube. Note: dilution requires more frequent application.

Best for Baby

Goddess Garden Sunny Kids Sunscreen SPF 30
6 oz., $19.99, EWG Score = 1

Mommas of babies love Goddess Garden, and this sunscreen ranks high for its pleasant smell and water-resistant qualities. It spreads on thick, leaving a slight white tinge (one that worsens upon contact with water). But for the fair-skinned, the protection is incomparable. All Goddess Garden products are biodegradable and come packaged in recycled tubes.

Best Water-Resistant

All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30
6 oz., $14.99, EWG Score = 1

My standard go-to, All Terrain’s AquaSport lasts longer in water than most physical sunscreens. Often, thanks to their strong distribution, you can find All Terrain products on sale or at bulk pricing. I stock up twice a season and keep a tube in every backpack. Added bonus: the no-sting formula works perfectly for sweaty athletes or children with sensitive eyes.

Best Value

Alba Botanica Kids Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
4 oz., $11, EWG Score = 2

This economical screen shows up on the ends of most supermarket aisles. Pack it in the camp bag. That way, if a little gets shared it won’t break your bank. Note: not all Alba Botanica sunscreens are physical screens. Alba’s chemical screens receive much higher EWG hazard scores. Read the label!

Camp-Bag Must!

Badger All Season Face Stick
.65 oz., $8.49
Applied once, this slathering will last a busy water bug nearly all day! Plus, they’ll have that cool surfer look.