Q&A: sunscreen

I've gotten a few requests, coming on the heels of the bug repellent post from a few weeks ago, for recommendations of sunscreen.

Bear in mind, please, that I'm not a doctor or a dermatologist of any sort. I am, however, a very fair-skinned, light-eyed person, and my mom had her first skin cancer at the age of 47. So sunscreen is definitely a priority for me, but I'm not super-anal about keeping up with the exact latest. I feel like it's better to be consistent about using something good than always chasing the best thing.

I definitely choose a physical sunscreen over a chemical sunscreen when I can. I don't understand the chemicals or how they work, and that makes me hesitant to spread them all over my kids' biggest organs. (The ingredients in physical sunscreens have a longer record of use and known effects, just because they're less complex.) But lately they've been lobbying me to get the spray-on sunscreen because it takes less time to apply.

So I need some recommendations from you all. Are there sunscreens for kids that come in big enough buckets that I won't have to repurchase every week, and that aren't so thick that it takes forever to apply them? And that are actually affordable, since we go through so much?

I continue to be in love with the Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 30 for my face. It's a mineral powder (meaning it's a physical sunscreen instead of a chemical sunscreen) that comes in a tube with a brush, so you just brush it on your face like you would a loose powder. It's got a touch of a sort of generic beige-ish color to it if you apply a ton, but it doesn't look fake on pale me or on one of my medium-toned black friends. (It looks like they now have it in "Oily Problem Skin" formula and SPF 45. Awesome.)

The SPF 30 only works if you get even coverage, so make sure you spend the minute or two it'll take to really dust it on evenly. The best part about this sunscreen, IMO, is that reapplication is a breeze, and it absorbs oil instead of making you feel like a grease slick. It hasn't been such an issue so far in this damp June, but when it's 90 degrees F at 9 am I'm happy not to be putting anything moisturizing on my face. It's very pricey at $30, but I'm almost at the end of mine after using it all last summer and whenever it wasn't raining or snowing over the winter, so I've definitely gotten my money's worth. Two of my friends got it on my recommendation last year and are now evangelizers for it, so it's not just me.

A reminder that if you can get your kids to wear hats (and wear them yourself) you'll be providing a lot of sun protection. Lots of kids think rash guards are fun to wear while swimming or playing in the water, and you can get them with SPF built into the fabric.

Don't forget eye protection, either. My uncle the ophthalmologist is pretty vocal about getting everyone to wear good sunglasses, including kids, to protect their eyes.

Did anyone try the Peter Thomas Roth and either love it or hate it? Please tell me what sunscreen to use on my kids. And are my kids the only ones who seem to compulsively lose or break sunglasses?