SPF and Other Skin Protection Factors
SPF 30 is standard (and minimum) protection recommended for daily use. So what do higher numbers mean? Well, the higher the number, the longer the protection. That said, there really isn’t much of a difference between SPF 50 and SPF 100, which is why new labels will read SPF 50+ as the maximum SPF protection available. If you are fair, prone to skin cancer or you want added security just in case you can’t reapply as quickly, it’s best to choose an SPF 50+.
Sunscreen should be considered an everyday skin product, not just for the beach or swimming pool. It’s important to block harmful UV rays on cloudy or rainy days too. Moisturize your children every morning with a cream or lotion that contains SPF of at least 30. Focus especially on exposed areas of skin including face, neck and back of hands. Teach your children to reapply before recess, PE or other outdoor time whenever possible.
Reapply, reapply, reapply
ALL sunscreen wears off after a few hours, so it’s a must that you reapply frequently, at least every 2 hours and especially after swimming or sweating. Even if it says sweat proof or waterproof, it is not permanent and needs to be reapplied. The sunscreen labels will be marked as water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes to be more accurate, but that’s really the maximum amount of time it will last in perfect conditions.
Spray or cream, baby or sport?
Parents often ask me which sunscreen is best for their children. My answer: whichever one they let you apply frequently! It’s a good idea to test a little bit on a small area of skin before slathering your little one all over, just to make sure it doesn’t cause a skin reaction. If your little one’s are especially sensitive (my younger son is) ask your dermatologist, allergist or pediatrician for a recommendation. Vanicream is one of my favorites for especially sensitive skin. If you choose spray sunscreen, make sure you spray outside and not on your child’s face to avoid inhaling the fumes.
SPF hats and clothing are available everywhere and at a variety of price points. Buy hats, shirts and lightweight jackets to make it easy for your children to protect their skin. Or wash SPF into their clothing with a product like Sun Guard. Start infants and toddlers off with an SPF shirt as part of the swimsuit so it becomes a part of their beach and pool uniform. And don’t forget that eyes are just as sensitive as skin and important to protect with UV sunglasses.
UVA, UVB and other Letters of the Alphabet
Look for a product that says broad spectrum to prevent against UVA and UVB rays, which cause future wrinkle, sunspots and deadly skin cancer. Products labeled broad spectrum will cover you for both.
There you have it. A little preventive care goes a long way in protecting your family’s skin. With UV protective clothing, a hat, sunglasses and lots of sunscreen, you and your family can enjoy the sunny days ahead. Have fun!