Warmer weather means more time outdoors enjoying the time with family and friends – and plenty of antics that comes with it all. And while we all enjoy a good session soaking under the sun, opting for the right form of protection will shield you from harm’s way. And it all starts with knowing exactly what type of sunscreen to use for your whole family – little ones included.
Who should use sunscreen?
Children over the age of six months are recommended to use some form of sunscreen. However, it should be applied alongside other measures such as the use of sun shirts, hats and the utilisation of shady areas.
As for application, make sure your entire family has plenty of it slapped on – no matter how much the kids might protest against it. Moreover, even if the sun is seemingly hiding and it doesn’t seem bright or hot enough, it’s still important that you efficiently apply enough lotion before, during and after swimming.
Pro tip: For maximum protection apply after every session in the pool, and two hours in between last doing so. Even if your choice of lotion labels it as waterproof, reapplication is crucial for consistent, effective coverage.
It should also be used generously. Each application should include at least 50mls of lotion; not using enough may mean you don’t give it the best shot at working.
What you should be looking for on the packaging
- Look for words such as “broad spectrum” or “multi-spectrum” on the packaging. These types of product protect against UVA and UVB rays.
- Those that contain metal oxides are the safest. Look for ingredients such as zinc or titanium in your search. You can tell these apart from the rest as they leave a slightly white film on your skin when you apply them.
- Ingredients you should avoid include oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. It is also recommended that you avoid the use of nanoparticles in sunscreens, due to lack of research showing their impact on children.
The great spray vs. lotion debate
Lotions, whilst messier, are easier to apply. They also allow you to ensure a consistent, even layer of coverage. As the skin tends to absorb lotions less, these are typically the more popular option.
Additionally, sprays can leave you with patches that are not completely covered, which renders them ineffective against the sun’s rays. There’s also the issue of children likely inhaling the ingredients when the spray is applied – side effects of which still haven’t been explored.
Is there a way to test if my child will react to sunscreen?
Luckily, there’s a simple way to test the suitability of any product on skin before applying it to a larger area. Simply place a small fingernail-sized patch on the inside of your little one’s wrist at least 24 hours before you will be using it in full-swing.
Monitor the area for any rashes or irritation. If there is no reaction, the product is safe to use. However, if any irritation does occur, contact your family doctor immediately.
Above all, always check the label before purchasing any type of product, to better understand the ingredients included and the directions for usage. When in doubt, slip, slop, slap every two hours and consult your GP if your child experiences any issues along the way.