5 Simple Tips on Choosing the Best Sunscreen
Choosing a sunscreen can be overwhelming - especially with the wide array of options both online and in stores. Nowadays moms not only want to protect their child’s skin from burns, they want to protect them from harmful ingredients too. Read on to learn about what you should be looking for in your next bottle of sunscreen.
Whenever I purchase a product, the first thing I do is look at the ingredients. When it comes to sunscreen you’re looking for ingredients that stay on top of the skin and prevent UVA and UVB rays from penetrating. Look for sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals are stable in the sun, don’t penetrate the skin, and are protective against both high and low energy ultraviolet rays. They might make your skin slightly chalky because they sit atop the skin, but it beats a burn.
It can be tough getting your child to sit still so you can apply sunscreen. Which is why many moms opt for sprays. Although spraying your toddler may be easier, you’re not guaranteed an even application or coverage with a spray. Plus, your child may inhale some sunscreen - which isn’t exactly appetizing (or safe).
The common belief is that the higher the SPF (sun protection factor), the better the sunscreen. This is a myth. The Environmental Working Group states that any product above SPF 50 offers only marginally better sun protection. With that in mind, consumers who use products with high SPF values (like SPF 100), believe that they can spend more time out in the sun without reapplying sunscreen. This belief can therefore lead to a higher risk of burns. The EWG advises us to choose products with SPF between 30 and 50.
Opt for products that claim to be water or sweat resistant, rather than water or sweat proof. Resistant means that the sunscreen will not come off if it’s not wiped off the skin. That said, you should still be reapplying every 2 hours.
5. Broad spectrum
This simply means that the skin is both protected from UVA and UVB rays. The sunburns that we typically get are a result of UVB rays, while UVA rays are more deeply penetrating and can lead to increased skin aging. Both types of rays affect skin cancer risk. Choosing a mineral sunscreen will offer protection to both UVA and UVB rays.
Other helpful tips:
- Sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours or after swimming and exercising. When sending your child off to summer camp, be sure to pack sunscreen with their name on it and if possible, teach your child where to apply it, when to apply it, and how much to use. Be mindful that one bottle probably won’t last you the entire summer.
- Suncare goes beyond sunscreen. Having a protective hat, clothing, sunglasses, water and opting for shade when possible will help protect your child from sunburns and dehydration.
- Check your expiry dates. Like any product, it’s important to examine if your sunscreen from last year is safe to use. If it’s expired, toss it and pick up something new.
Alexsia Priolo is a Toronto-based naturopath. Healthy Moms will soon be able to receive a discount on her services, but for now, find out more here.