Summer, Sunscreen & Safety
With the warmer summer weather officially here, chances are you have started slathering your little ones with sunscreens for those favorite seasonal activities such as frolicking at the beach, playing in the park and riding bikes. More sunshine means more sunscreen. Many parents utilize water resistant sunscreens to ensure their children are properly covered throughout these activities. Its important to understand that the way water resistant sunscreens are formulated makes them far more challenging to remove during bath time. We have some tips and tricks to help keep your little ones properly covered with sunscreen, and also how to properly remove sunscreen at the end of the day.
First, if your child is under 6 months old you, it is not recommended to use sunscreen on their skin. The FDA mandates that sunscreen labels state that sunscreen is only safe for babies over 6 months old. This is likely due to the fact that the infants skin barrier is not fully formed and the benefits of sunscreen do not outweigh the risks of use. That said, the American Academy of Pediatrics have stated that if adequate clothing and shade is not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least SPF 15 to small areas for babies under 6 months old.
SPF is a calculation of the amount of time your skins natural protection against the sun will be multiplied by when using the product. For example, SPF 15 will give you 15x more protection. SPF 30 gives you 30x more protection. SPF 50 gives you 50x more protection. The statistical difference between 30 and 50 is quite small, so this is why SPF 30 is the most recommended option. SPF 30 protects against 97% of the sun’s rays while SPF 30 increases only to 98%.
It is also important to use a sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB coverage. UVA rays are long-wave, ever present when the sun shines and account for 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface. UVA rays are responsible for skin aging (wrinkles, spots) and have been linked to skin cancer. UVA rays can penetrate glass so that means that UVA protection is necessary even when you are in the car or sitting next to a window. Check out this photo of a truckdriver that only had the left side of this face exposed while driving throughout the years and the damage is clear.
UVB rays are short-wave and are at their peak between 10am and 4pm between April and October. Though, they are always there – even on cloudy off-season days. These are the rays that are responsible for sunburn and largely to blame for skin cancer.
Sometimes it can be hard to convince children that they need sunscreen for these outdoor activities. If your little ones don’t love to apply sunscreen or don’t believe they need it you can show them this video – its powerful!
To get full protection, you should use about one ounce (two tablespoons) to apply evenly over exposed areas and reapply every two hours, or right after being in the water.
Sunscreens that have water-resistant claims are formulated with an ingredient that formulators call binding agents – they help adhere product to skin, creating a stronger bond. They are used for the sole purpose of ensuring that sunscreen will literally stick to the skin, even when swimming, sweating or being in a jacuzzi. In order for a sunscreen to achieve a waterproof claim it must undergo extensive special testing. Basically, subjects (human volunteers), apply sunscreen and they then submerge themselves in a hot tub or jacuzzi, then get out and allow the skin to air dry. They repeat this several times and the skin is tested throughout – if it does not achieve the SPF claim, it will not get a water resistant claim. This is why sunscreen fixatives are an important ingredient utilized to ensure that this test can be passed.
Most parents will use water resistant sunscreens on our children. And, while we have to reapply and be aware of proper coverage, we also should be aware that some of these sunscreens work so effectively and bond so well, that they can be challenging to wash off. Simply sitting in still bath water will not remove water resistant sunscreen. (Remember the jacuzzi test above?) It is important to use a washcloth or a pouf to wash all the areas where sunscreen was applied thoroughly.
There are risks associated with leaving sunscreen on the skin before bed time. Sunscreen can be irritating to the skin so the longer you have it on, the risk of irritation increases. It can also clog pores and lead to breakouts, unless you are using a face sunscreen that has a non-comedogenic claim. Sunscreen Actives are oils and need to be washed off, unless you prefer your white sheets turn yellow.
It can be challenging for kids to understand the importance of doing a thorough job of washing off sunscreen. Little ones definitely require supervision and a little help to ensure proper removal of sunscreen during bath time.
Wondering which sunscreens we love? Here are two we really like as they are mineral based, have both UVA/UVB protection, are water resistant and have great aesthetics!