Being in a tropical country means loads of sun exposure all year round. Even when it’s cloudy, you can feel the sun’s heat on your skin. This makes protecting your family’s skin extremely important. There are so many options available in the market, but not all sunblocks are made the same. This can make it difficult to find the right one for your kids. Here’s how to pick the right sunblock/sunscreen for the family.
Sunblock Vs. Sunscreen
Sunblocks and sunscreens seem to be interchangeable; sometimes people even assume them to be the same thing. While they both protect your skin from the sun, they do so by different means. Sunblocks, as their name suggests, blocks and deflects UV rays from your skin. These are usually done through minerals such as titanium oxide. Sunscreens, on the other hand, use chemicals to absorb UV rays, preventing them from penetrating the skin.
Pediatricians usually recommend youngsters to use sunblock as their form of protection. However, sunblock is usually found to be more expensive than sunscreen. It should be noted that for babies under 6 months old, doctors suggest using physical barriers as means of protection from the sun rather than applying sunblock. These include umbrellas, hats, shades, and SPF clothing.
What Features to Look For
When looking for sunblock for children, aim to find one that is non-toxic, water resistant, and says “broad spectrum” to protect from both UVA and UVB rays. Look for an adequate SPF rating, preferably anywhere from 30 to 50. For sensitive skin, it would be better to use products with metal oxides— such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide— as its active ingredient. These tend to be the safest for skin, though they may be pricier and harder to spread.
Try to avoid sunblocks containing potential hormone disruptors. Commonly found in the market would be inactive ingredients such as retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) and oxybenzone. If your child has sensitive skin, as many young children do, stay away from ingredients that are prone to cause allergies such as PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid).
When choosing between sprays, lotions, or creams, it is advised to choose either a lotion or cream. These can provide more coverage and are not as easily absorbed through the skin. Sprays, on the other hand, can make it difficult to determine whether an adequate amount has been applied and can be inhaled by your child.
As a general practice when trying new sunblock, first test a small amount on your child’s inner wrist and leave for a few hours to see if a rash forms. Now that you’ve found the right sunblock, it’s time for some fun under the Sun!