While playing in the sun can be fun, modern parents now know that it’s sensible for children to limit their exposure to strong rays. Judging by the variety of sunhats (and the odd parasol) on display in kid’s playgrounds during summertime, it seems the expert view that too much sun can be dangerous is really getting through.
Scientists recommend high SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreens to block out the ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays which may cause skin damage. But, as a green parent who is dubious about the chemicals present in sunscreen, how can you pick a product that works without harming your child’s skin?
Luckily, nowadays there are many alternatives to the mainstream children’s sunscreens available either through the internet or from your local health food store. Though there’s no real evidence that traditional sunscreen is truly toxic, the active chemicals can cause irritation in young complexions.
So Do Chemical-Free Sunscreens Really Work?
Yes, they do (these products wouldn’t be allowed on the shelves otherwise!) but they work in a different way from conventional sunscreens. If you look at the list of ingredients used to make chemical-free sunscreen, you’ll see they feature either zinc oxide or titanium oxide. These ingredients aren’t absorbed into young bodies, rather they sit on the top of skin and form a powerful protective barrier against the sun’s rays. This method has the added bonus of protecting skin immediately after application, whereas with chemical sunscreen you’re expected to wait 30 minutes before letting your child out to play.
Choosing a Chemical-free Sunscreen
Just like with other kid’s products, it’s worth asking other parents what brands they believe work best and experimenting with different sunscreens. Don’t be fooled into buying a more expensive product simply because it’s aimed at kids; children’s sunscreen contains exactly the same active ingredients as the adult kind! Look out for an SPF of at least 15, which should be enough to keep most children properly protected.
If your child’s skin is particularly sensitive, it’s worth carrying out a quick patch test to check there’s no reaction. Simply apply a small amount to his or her inner upper arm and watch out for redness or an angry rash.
Tips On Keeping Your Child Safe In The Sun
- Apply sun-screen properly. Slather every inch of vulnerable skin including easy-to-miss danger areas like the nose, ears, shoulders and back of the neck
- Buy a well-known brand. Choose sunscreen from a reputable eco-friendly company that has been trading for a while
- Top up protection regularly. Though some products claim to work all day, it’s far safer to reapply sunscreen every two hours – particularly if your kids have been in the sea
- Choose sun-friendly clothing. Long-sleeved shirts, long shorts and wide-brimmed hats all do their bit to defend vulnerable skin against the sun
It sometimes seems a shame not to let kids roam free in the summertime sun. But with the right chemical-free sunscreen (accompanied by a little common sense) young skin will enjoy the sun for a long time to come.