What type of sunscreen is best?
When choosing a sunscreen to use on your child, look for these five key components:
1. Broad-spectrum coverage
Since UVB rays cause sunburns and UVA rays can prematurely age skin and cause melanoma, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect from both types of rays.
2. Natural ingredients
Chemicals like oxybenzone and octisalate are often used in sunscreens and work by sinking into the skin and then absorbing and deferring UV rays. They can potentially irritate sensitive skin, and the jury is still out on whether they can have long-term adverse effects on little ones (oxybenzone is known to be a hormone disrupter). So it’s best to go with natural blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals sit on top of the skin and reflect away both UVA and UVB rays (a.k.a. broad-spectrum coverage).
3. Water resistant
There’s no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. But ones labeled “water resistant” will stand up to sweat and water for either 40 or 80 minutes (check the label to see what the specific formula provides). You will need to reapply sunscreen after this time period.
4. At least SPF 15
This is the minimum number that will protect against burns and cancer-causing rays. Consider lower SPFs useless. You can go up to SPF 30, but higher than that and the amount of increased protection is minor.
5. A cream type
Sunblocks come in sticks, sprays, and creams. Sprays can make application easy on an antsy toddler, but they still need to be rubbed in order to provide adequate coverage. Plus, their small particles can be inhaled. (Gross.) Most importantly, parents often don’t apply enough sunscreen when using a spray, and a burn can result. Although creams take more time to apply, they’re worth it to make sure your baby is fully covered.