Now that summer is (finally!!!!!!!!!!) here, its time to start packing sunscreen everywhere you go to protect your little one’s precious skin. Before you run to the closest drug store and pick up the most convenient, highest SPF sunscreen you see, here are a few tips to make sure you are protecting your kiddo’s skin and their health!
A few summer tips
While it’s always fun to play in the sun, remember that sunscreens are only certified to protect against UVB rays, which cause sunburns and non-cancerous tumors. The only way to effectively protect yourself from harmful UVA rays, which have less visible damaging effects, is to cover up!
- Light, loose, breathable clothing can be a lifesaver, literally.
- Sun hats and sunglasses are a necessity that is often overlooked.
- Drink lots of water.
- Avoid midday sun
- Make shade
Keep an eye out for the following:
For convenience’s sake, it’s easy to reach for an aerosol sun protectant when shopping for sunscreen. After all, one quick spray down and you’re all done, right? Unfortunately not. Aerosol sunscreens can affect little lungs and trigger inflammation and even asthma attacks. Additionally, aerosol sprays hardly ever completely cover the skin, leaving large patches exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. To effectively use aerosol sunscreen, you would need to spray it directly into your hands and rub it in, and isn’t that what you were trying to avoid in the first place? Save your kiddos lungs (and your wallet!) and opt for a solid or lotion sunscreen instead.
Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
Keep in mind that Sun Protection Factor caps out at 50, so anything with a higher SPF is virtually useless. Sunscreens with a higher SPF also require a higher concentration of chemicals for a tiny bit more of protection. Studies have shown that sunscreens with an SPF of 50 blocked 99% of harmful UVB rays, whereas SPF 100 blocks 99%. For all the extra chemicals, it’s just not worth it!
Humans absorb chemical and substances through the skin at a rate much higher than is commonly known, and young skin is especially thin and absorbent. Oxybenzone is a chemical commonly used in cosmetics, sunscreens, lotions, and nail polishes. In recent studies, it has been linked to disruption of the endocrine system, the headstone of hormone production. Young children lack the enzyme equipped to break down and excrete chemicals such as oxybenzone, and due to this and their non-established hormones, they are at higher risk for these issues. As an added risk, oxybenzone has been proven to kill coral and harm ocean and river wildlife.
Another dangerous chemical to avoid is Retinyl Palmitate. In research, topical application of this chemical was shown to actually accelerate the growth of cancer cells in lab animals. While nothing has been solidly proven and the chemical is still accepted by FDA standards, it is probably safe to avoid any products containing Retinyl Palmitate.
Which sunscreens are the best for your child?
Its best to look for chemical-free lotions that contain minerals like Zinc Oxide to protect your children. Many of our top pics come in either a lotion or stick! Here is a list of our top 10 sunscreens for kids (in no particular order):
- Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50: Water resistant for 80 minutes. 100% Mineral based. Chemical and fragrance free. Comes in a convenient stick or lotion.
- Mustela Baby Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50: Great for sensitive skin. Water resistant for 80 minutes. Made from 93% naturally derived ingredients. Chemical-free. Comes in a stick or lotion.
- Blue Lizard Australian Baby SPF 30: Water resistant for 40 minutes. Chemical and fragrance-free. Dermatologist recommended. Comes in stick or lotion.
- Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 50: Great for sensitive skin. Water resistant for 80 minutes. Made of 100% naturally derived zinc oxide. Also comes in a stick or lotion.
- Bare Republic Mineral Based Sunscreen SPF 50: Biodegradable and reef-friendly. Chemical and fragrance-free. Water resistant for 80 minutes.
- Two Peas Organics Mineral Based Sunscreen SPF 50: Amazon’s choice! Water resistant for 80 minutes. Chemical and fragrance free. Biodegradable and reef-friendly.
- Babyganics Mineral Based Sunscreen SPF 50: Reef-safe. Pediatrician and Dermatologist tested. Water and sweat resistant for 80 minutes.
- Neutragena Pure and Free Baby Sunscreen SPF 50: Water resistant for 80 minutes. Tear, fragrance and paraben free.
- Baby Badger Active Kids Sunscreen SPF 30: Pediatrician-tested. Gluten free and hypoallergenic. Reef safe. 98% organic ingredients. Water resistant for 40 minutes.
- ThinkBaby Body and Face Sunscreen Stick SPF 30: Reef friendly. No biologically harmful chemicals. Water resistant for 80 minutes.
Which sunscreens are the worst for your child?
According to the Environmental Working Group, these are some of the WORST sunscreens for your kids:
- Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Kids Max Protect & Play Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
- Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70+
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Kroger Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Kroger Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
- Up & Up Kid’s Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55