Take the confusion out of choosing sun-care products for your child with these expert tips.
The numbers game
When buying sunscreen for Junior, choose one that shields his skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. The former causes sunburn, while the latter can contribute to skin cancer. Also look out for the product’s sun protection factor (SPF) and PA ranking. SPF measures how long skin is protected from UVB rays and sunburn, while the PA ranking measures protection against UVA rays. Dermatologist Low Chai Ling, medical director of The Sloane Clinic, suggests buying a sunscreen containing an SPF of at least 15.
Kids with sensitive skin may prefer creams, sticks or lotions, as these are generally not as drying as gels, fluids or sprays, says Dr Low. Children’s skin is also more sensitive than adult skin, so lotions or creams may feel more comfortable or irritate their skin less.
“On young children, sunscreens that remain white after applying – at least for a few minutes – also help you ensure complete coverage,” Dr Low adds. “Obviously, if your child is going to be swimming, sunscreen that does not come off in the water is desirable.
“For very young kids, choose a formulation with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these are largely inert, non-irritating chemicals that provide good broad-spectrum protection.”
Apply, apply, apply…
For the best protection, slather on sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect Junior’s ears, nose, lips and the tops of his feet.
If using a spray, Dr Low recommends generous applications. Then use your hands to spread the formulation all over his skin. On the face, she recommends spraying the sunscreen onto your fingers and smoothing it on, rather than spraying directly – he may inhale it or get it in his eyes.
Now you’re ready for some outdoor family fun!
By Sasha Gonzales, Young Parents, June 2015