Sunscreen Safety and Products for Your Protection
Summer means longer days spent outside at the beach, the local swimming pool, and playing in the park, but also kids soaking up those sun rays even more. At Sprout, we wholeheartedly support all that outdoor activity and fun, but with a little smart safety too! The Environmental Protection Agency warns us that overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can be dangerous and can lead to serious health problems including skin cancer, eye damage and immune system suppression.
Children’s sensitive skin are particularly at risk which is why it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect their delicate skin from sunburn. The American Skin Association recommends that sun exposure should be avoided between 10am - 4pm and by staying indoors or seeking out shady areas and that children should always wear protective clothing such a wide brimmed hat, long sleeves and sunglasses.
However, we know that following these rules are not always possible and children are going to be begging to swim in the swimming pool and run around in the sun. This is where SUNSCREEN comes in.
What Should I Look For When Choosing A Sunscreen Product?
Sunscreen provides protection against harmful UV rays that causes sunburn and other negative side effects to your health. When it comes to children, there are a few additional factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a product.
Choose a Lotion over a Spray: Even though sprays are more convenient, easier and quicker to apply, the safety and effectiveness of sprays have been a concern for dermatologists at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for some time. As well as the risks involved in inhaling the fumes, FDA points out that the application of the protection when using a spray, is not even and cannot be monitored. Overall, sunscreen lotion is the best way to go as you can see how much is being applied to the child’s skin and there are less risks involved with inhalation and exposure. However, if sunscreen spray is the only thing you have at hand, spray the sunscreen in your hand and then rub it into your child’s body and face.
Read the Labels: Choose a sunscreen that uses the term ‘broad spectrum’ with a SPF of at least 30 and is ‘water resistant’. Avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone which is one of the most common active ingredients in sunscreens that are sold in the US. The American Cancer Society states that studies are shown that oxybenzone can interfere with hormones in the body and is ultimately unsafe for people and the environment.
How Often Should I Apply Sunscreen?
Apply sunscreen on generously 30 minutes before going outside. Too much is better than not enough as studies have shown that sunscreen users tend to use only one-fifth to one-half of the recommended amount of sunscreen. We already know that we should be using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above and by a general rule of thumb, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, more often if your child is in and out of the water. However, experts have come up with a formula to help you calculate how often you should re-apply your sunscreen based on the fact that skin can burn within twenty minutes. So by applying an SPF 15 sunscreen, you'll be protected for about 300 minutes, or five hours (SPF 15 x 20 minutes = 300 minutes).
When applying sunscreen to your child, don’t forget about the ears, hands, feet, shoulders and behind the neck. Make sure the whole body is smothered in the stuff even the unexposed parts that are protected by clothing or bathing suit straps. Skin may be exposed as your child moves around. Also don’t forget about the lips! Use a SPF 35 lip balm to keep their lips from going dry and blistering.
What If My Child’s Skin Is Sensitive?
Sunscreen is safe to use on children six months and above, but for babies under six months old, experts recommend using other protective factors such as keeping them out of the sun, wearing clothing that covers their bodies and using hats and umbrellas.
If your child has sensitive skin or is sensitive to chemical allergens, the Environmental Working Group advises that a small amount of sunscreen should be applied on the inside of your child’s wrist before you plan to use it. If irritation or a rash occurs, try another product or consult your doctor for specialised recommendations.
The Best Sunscreen Products For Children
EWG tries and tests hundreds of sunscreen products out there that are advertised for children with sensitive skin. Every year they highlight the few products that met their exceptional high standards that are natural, safe to use on sensitive skin and affordable. These are a few of our favourites:
- Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen, $12. Thinkbaby and Thinksport have been leaders in the use of BPA-free and safe materials for #1 award-winning consumer products for over a decade. From baby bottles to adult deodorant and sunscreen, they offer a range of products to keep your whole family healthy and happy. The EWG has stood behind this SPF 50+ formula since 2010, and it was the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods’ Premium Care requirements.
- Equate Baby Zinc Sunscreen Mineral Lotion, $4.98 - This broad-spectrum formula costs only $1 per ounce making it the perfect sunscreen product for the budget conscious.
- Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, $13 - A little on the pricier side, this extra-sensitive SPF 50 formula is made with soothing ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and chamomile extracts.
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, $18.64 - The most expensive product we are listing but we love the fact that this SPF 30+ formula turns pink when it’s hit by harmful UV rays so you know when your baby is at risk and to re-apply another layer. Genius!
EWG’s Worst Scoring Kid’s Sunscreen Products
Many products out there on the market not only didn’t make the cut but are seen as dangerous and should be avoided. This list of sunscreen products all had similar patterns and factors that should be highlighted:
- They are spray sunscreens
- High rated SPF ratings - SPF ratings cannot go higher than SPF 50. Anything above that is seen as misleading and dangerous
- Contains oxybenzone or retinyl Palmitate which is a form of Vitamin A and has been proven to speed up the growth of skin tumours and lesions.
The bottom line is any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen at all. Don’t expose your children to the harmful UV rays of the sun without the necessary protection but if you are concerned about reducing further harm caused by sunscreen, just make sure it ticks these few boxes and you’re good to go:
- SPF 30 or higher
- Is a lotion and not a spray
- Does not contain Oxybenzone or Retinyl Palmitate
- Is a ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘multi spectrum’ product
- Is water resistant
We hope these tips are helpful, but ultimately you know what is best for your family, so please do your own research to make the best decision possible! Have fun and stay safe this summer from Sprout!