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How Do I Choose the Best Sun Cream for Children?

Tiffany Manley
Tiffany Manley

Skin products designed to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays are very important, especially for children. When choosing a sun cream for children identify products that protect against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, are hypo-allergenic and fragrance free, and have at least a 15 or 30 sun protection factor (SPF). In addition to purchasing a suitable sun cream for children, knowing how to properly apply the product, how often to reapply, and how long a product is water resistant are important as well.

Both UVA and UVB rays have been shown to be harmful, but in different ways. Look for products that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide for protection against UVA rays, and octisalate and oxybenzone for UVB rays. Other ingredients are available to prevent these rays from penetrating, but they have been shown to sometimes be harmful to children.

The Sun.
The Sun.

Sun cream for children should generally be hypo-allergenic and fragrance free, especially if it is for a small child. Fragrances serve no real purpose in the product and ingredients such as para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) are allergens that could easily irritate a child’s skin. Most modern sun care products do not contain PABA because it is known to irritate skin. Sticking with ingredients that are natural or created specifically for sensitive skin can often be best for children.

SPF is a number used to illustrate how long a person can theoretically remain in the sun before burning. This means an SPF of 15 allows someone to stay out in the sun 15 times longer than the normal amount of time it takes them to get sunburn. Many experts agree that an SPF of at least 15 or 30 is ideal for sun cream for children.

The SPF number is important, but many believe it can be more important to know how much sun cream to use and how often. Applying a thick layer of sun cream for children is the best way to apply it to fully reap the benefits of the product. Reapplication should generally be done every two hours, although if a child has been playing in water for any length of time more should be put on when they have finished.

Sun cream for children that is mean to be water resistant simply means that the SPF is still working for approximately 40 minutes of being in the water. Extremely water resistant products are only good for about 80 minutes in water. After, you should generally reapply sun cream to help avoid sunburns and future skin problems.

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