Sunscreen is meant to protect us from sunburn and skin cancer. But not all sunscreens are created equal, with some providing more protection than others, and some containing certain ingredients that could be potentially harmful. As children typically spend a good deal of time outdoors this time of year, and skin cancer rates are on the rise, we’d like to help parents wade through the wide variety of sunscreens available.
Here are some guidelines for choosing the best kids sunscreen, courtesy of Consumer Reports:
- Sunscreens over SPF 50 have not been shown through FDA testing to provide additional protection. An SPF of at least 30 should be used for optimal protection.
- Avoid sunscreens that contain the ingredients oxybenzone, nanoscale zinc and titanium oxides. Oxybenzone may interefere with hormones, while nanoscale zinc and titanium oxides could potentially have negative developmetal and reporductive effects.
- Don’t use spray sunscreen on kids. The FDA is analyzing the effects of inhaling sunscreens on children. Until their analysis is complete, it’s best to avoid using these products on kids, unless it’s the only option. In that case, spray the sunscreen onto your hands to apply it to your child rather than spraying the child directly.
- Sunscreen should only be used sparingly, if at all, on babies under six months. It’s best to keep them out of the sun, or cover their skin with light, loose fitting clothing and large brimmed hats. If you do apply sunscreen to an infant, be sure to only put it on small areas that can’t be reached by his/her mouth.
- Don’t be fooled into thinking pricier sunscreens are more effective. Consumer testing of different brands found that price was no indication of effectiveness.
Read our Skin Cancer Patient Guide for signs of skin cancer, questions to ask the doctor, what to expect at your appointment, and more.