Posted by Hilary Parker on July 15, 2011
I’m a redheaded, freckled, lily-white mom to two reddish-haired, freckled, lily-white girls… Which means we’re one hot mess in the summertime. Add the older girl’s love of all things water and the baby’s eczema and you’ve got the potential for some real sunscreen struggles.
And that’s before the recent news that many chemicals in sunscreen may be harmful to our children’s health. Or that the SPF number is the new egg — one day SPF 50 is great, and the next it’s a waste of money. Then there’s the whole water-resistant/waterproof/super waterproof categorization. Good grief! How’s a mom supposed to know which one is right for her kids? When we were growing up, the hardest part of sun safety was standing still long enough for our moms to lather us up. And now that we’re the ones making the decisions, we’re left with more questions and fewer answers.
Well, friends, I finally got a good answer and had to pass it along to you. My kids’ pediatrician gave me the scoop: The best sun safety for little ones is a broad spectrum, physical sunblock. Better yet, it’s easy to know if you’re getting the right kind — just look for one of two crucial active ingredients: titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. She also said that it didn’t matter how expensive the sunblock was, just as long as it contained one of these ingredients. Simple, right?
Even better, since the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are physical blocking agents rather than chemicals, there’s no worry about what you’re putting onto their little bodies. Plus they are great for sensitive skin types — even for our little eczema princess. But better yet? They go on and are effective immediately, as opposed to other forms of sunscreen which take around 30 minutes to absorb and take effect.
As for how often to reapply, I turned to the famous University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine’s skin cancer guide. UCSF notes that the American Association of Dermatology (AAD) recommends a broad spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 15 be applied to all sun-exposed areas every day, then reapplied every two hours.
However, UCSF officials say, in recent clinical trials, SPF30 sunblocks provided significantly better protection than those with SPF15. “Therefore at UCSF, we recommend sunblocks with SPF of at least 30 with frequent reapplication,” they note.
That’s a great, simple guide for sunblock. At last!