Fun in the Sun: Important Facts on Children’s Sunscreen

As the days get warmer and the sun is higher in the sky, it’s time to check in with our kids’ exposure and make sure we are taking appropriate measures.

For a good part of the year, we don’t think about it at all, but sun exposure should be an ongoing concern in terms of long-term health. After all, the skin is the largest and most vulnerable organ we possess, so we need to get in the habit of taking care of it.

When was the last time you went into the sunscreen aisle? Chances are, you were pretty overwhelmed. There are so many products on the market, it’s difficult to know which ones are just flashy, expensive branding, and which ones are the exoskeleton your little one needs when playing in the pool or at the beach. The latest research has some revealing truths to point you in the right direction.

  1. Who needs sunscreen? Everyone. Skin cancer rates are increasing among people of color, in part because those with more melanin don’t easily burn and therefore think they don’t need it. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, everyone should be using sunscreen. Reducing the risk of skin cancer and premature aging are reasons enough1.
  1. SPF what? Sun Protection Factor is not a marketing ploy; it’s a real thing. Experts recommend SPF 30 or higher, no matter what skin color you have. SPF 15 blocks about 94% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays2. Above SPF 50, you are not going to see much more efficacy.
  1. UVA and UVB. Ultraviolet rays from the sun are the harmful, aging rays, where UVB or burning rays are the ones that actually cause sunburn. Contrary to popular belief, those rays are always a factor, even in the middle of winter. Look for broad spectrum products so that you and your family are protected against both.
  1. This is a key piece of advice in using sunscreen that most people forget: sunscreen wears off! Always pop for the water-resistant variety so that sweat or water-play won’t make the skin susceptible.
  1. Sunscreen is not enough. Whether your kids are fair or dark skinned, using sunscreen is not the only important protective measure. In the peak heat of the day, use lightweight clothing to cover up, utilize the shade, and get everyone a reliable hat.
  1. Avoid toxins. Not all products are created equal: some sunscreens have additives that pose a health concern. However, if you don’t have the luxury of sitting down and researching, sunscreen for babies is a pretty safe bet since acceptable levels of harmful ingredients are more stringent. Mineral-based products that contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide are usually relatively free of additives.
  1. Do your research. Still unsure which brands are best? The Environmental Working Group has a kick-butt database that presents the facts in terms of harmful ingredients and effectiveness. The site also includes articles on the latest findings. Check it out here: http://www.ewg.org/.

It’s worth putting a little time into finding the healthiest options for your kids, and thankfully, there is plenty of science out there that shows us how to do it. So everyone has a great summer experience and avoids the discomfort of sunburn, take sun damage seriously. After all, you’ve got skin in the game.

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs
  2. http://www.webmd.com/beauty/sun/high-spf-sunscreens-are-they-better

 

About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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