Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Selecting the Best Sunscreen!

image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/
Sunscreen is a fact of summer! Parents are all too familiar with making sure to slather their little ones with sunscreen anytime they will be outdoors, whether at the beach, at a sporting event, or even just in the backyard! But when it comes to picking out a sunscreen for their children, most parents select a sunscreen for their baby, toddler, or young child based simply on:
  • the highest SPF they can find (typically 50+ or higher)
  • that it is marketed as a kids' brand (Aveeno Baby, Banana Boat Kids, Coppertone Kids, Coppertone Waterbabies, etc.)
While these are great characteristics to look for, there are a few factors parents can take into consideration to simplify:
  • most sunscreen formulations are not dramatically different for children, so it is not always necessary to buy separate sunscreen for your child and yourself
  • the best sunscreens are not necessarily those with the biggest pricetags
The best sunscreens will: 
  • provide broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • have an SPF of at least 30. While there are higher SPFs, most experts acknowledge that the difference become less significant as the SPF exceeds 30 (i.e., SPF 30 offers protection against 97 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 50 which provides protection against 98 percent of UVB rays)
  • be water-resistant. Even if you aren't going swimming, if your children are outside, they will likely be sweating, so a water resistant may offer better protection than a regular sunscreen
  • be hypoallergenic and fragrance free, especially if your children have sensitive skin
  • be easy to use on your child (i.e., formulated as a stick, gel, lotion, or spray, etc.) 
Unfortunately, many sunscreens that say that they are broad-spectrum don't block rays from the full UVA spectrum. To get the best protection from UVA rays, look for sunscreens with the following ingredients: 
  • avobenzone, 
  • titanium dioxide, 
  • or zinc oxide.
If your child has sensitive skin, be sure to review the ingredients, be sure:
  • to choose one that is PABA free
  • it gets its UVA protection from a sunblock (i.e., titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, since they are less irritating than avobenzone)
  • to do a test application on a small area of your child's skin before you need to use it for real

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