I have been always obsessed with sun screen, and especially used lots of sun cream to protect the kids, as Spain is a very sunny country and I know that sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. Even, if the child does not have a sunburn, the sun exposure accumulates. Now as I am better informed, I would like to share some critical points with you and perhaps make you think and act, before your summer holiday starts.
I do not want to get very much into details, but will provide you with further information you can read.
First of all: do NOT use sun cream on less than twelve-month-old infants. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin (Melanin is the colored pigment in our skins. When skin is exposed to sunlight, more melanin is produced to help protect the skin against the UV rays.).
Take the following precautions to protect infants, but also take it into account for toddlers and older kids as the best sun screen is to stay in the shade and to cover up to shield skin from UV rays.
- Do not expose infants to direct sun and especially protect its head.
- Apply sun cream on infants of less than a year only in emergency situations.
- Keep your kids out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use a wide-brimmed hat with a brim that goes all around to protect the face and neck and sunglasses, if your child keeps them on.
- Chose tightly woven clothes with long sleeves and long pants in rather dark colors. The clothes should be loose-fitting on the body of your child. Shoes should cover the foot (no sandals) or you can use socks.
- Use an umbrella or canopy for your stroller to provide shade and we also bought a special tent, which protects from UV-rays with SPF 50 for the beach or garden.
Following precautions apply for toddlers and older kids:
- It is always better to use covering clothes and stay in the shade than to use sun cream all over the body. Try to use sun cream on a smaller area of the body as you protect larger areas with clothes.
- Perhaps it is worthwhile for you to buy some special kid´s clothes with integrated SPF.
- Test sunscreen by applying a small amount on the inside of your child’s wrist the day before you plan to use it. If an irritation or rash develops, try another product.
- Most of the sun creams for children are water-resistant. Take into account that you should reapply it often, especially if your child is playing in the water or sweating a lot.
- Do NOT use SPF higher than 50.
By the way:
- Always use sunshades in car windows as radiation gets partly through the glass.
- Do not leave your baby by no means alone in a car, not even 5 minutes as the car heats up very quickly.
Sun cream contains lots of chemicals and most of them are harmful for the health of your family and yourself. Some ingredients have more severe effects on baby´s skin than on adult´s skin, which is thinner and more permeable and their immune system is still immature.
At the end, what you put on the skin is almost like eating it, but many people are not aware of that! Think about how nicotine patches or other medicinal patches work … that is why organic textiles are very important as well.
It is inevitable to use sun cream and important to do so from one year onwards, but rather use one without harmful chemicals. Take into account that a more expensive cream purchased in a pharmacy is not always the better choice. In Germany Öko-Test as independent organization that tests sun creams for kids of all price levels had the result that many low priced sun creams purchased in discounters had less toxic substances than pharmacy brands!!!
Try to use sun creams that contain only mineral sun filters (normally zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, but beware of nano particles) and NO chemical filters as they are less harmful. Many chemical filters are known as hormone disruptors and other ingredients trigger allergic reactions, especially on the sensitive skin of a small child.
Suncream brands try to make parents think that the product provides complete protection and is completely safe. In many cases, that is not the truth. Most sunscreens contain toxic ingredients, hormone disruptors and common allergens and irritants. Do not feel save and take into account all additional precautions and provide shade and cover-up.
Commonly used in sunscreens, the chemical oxybenzone penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. Also Octocrylene and Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate are critical sun filters and sun cream might contain other toxic chemicals.
Check the INCI declaration and avoid products that contain those ingredients. Here you have a list with toxic ingredients.
Apart from all the other info, think that sunshine serves a critical function in the body that sunscreen appears to inhibit — producing vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays an important role for the development of strong bones as it helps our bodies absorb calcium, especially in children thus often supplements are prescribed.
Vitamin D is not produced during all hours of sunshine of the day, it depends where you live and of the angle with which the sun rays come to the earth. I have an application, which informs you about the hours vitamin D is produced, which is called D-Minder.
I know that it is very difficult to take all advises into account, but at least I would like you to know that sun cream all over the body and no other protection is the least favorable sun protection for a child. You better dress him or her and try to stay in the shade, especially in midday sun, and use sun cream with mineral filters only on smaller areas of the body.
Would you like to get more information on the topic?
I recommend those very detailed articles that also talk about the different UV-rays and providing more in-depth information: EWG has also recommendations and ratings of sun cream brands in their database.
I wish you GREAT HOLIDAYS!! Have lots of fun with your family!