This summer we are spending more time outdoors as a family than ever before. With 2 kids under 2, the only way to maintain my sanity is by getting out. Little Man is fully grown and capable of exploring outdoors while Little Miss is blissfully glued to my chest. Like every other mom out there, I had to make an inevitable decision of choosing the best sunscreen for my family. So I switched on my ‘research’ mode and took my magnifying glasses to scrutinize what goes into making a sunscreen. Here’s my ground work on how to choose the best sunscreen for your family and how to use them effectively.
All these are my personal experiments and of course I do not hold any medical degree. Always ask for an professional opinion to be safe.
1.Choose a Sunscreen with Mineral active ingredient:
Sunscreen contains either chemical or mineral active ingredients. These active ingredients protects your skin from sun damage. Sunscreen with chemical ingredients like oxybenzone absorb UV rays and convert it to heat energy. Mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium oxide scatter UV rays and do net let them enter your skin. Your sunscreen should protect you from both UVA & UVB rays. UVA rays cause skin aging and UVB rays results in skin burning. An ideal sunscreen should offer protection against both these rays. These kind of sunscreen is usually marketed as ‘broad spectrum’. Like every other product, labels can be delusional. So make sure you are aware of the ingredients to understand what kind of protection it offers.
I personally would recommend using a mineral based sunscreen. Minerals like Zinc oxide are less likely to be absorbed into the skin and do not break down in the sunlight, thus offering maximum protection. Mineral sunscreens are very much recommended for kids as they have sensitive skin which is often irritated by chemicals. Zinc oxide is EWG first choice for sun protection because it provides greater protection from UVA rays than titanium oxide or any other sunscreen chemical approved in the U.S
2. Choose a right SPF:
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is not a magic number that keeps you protected all day long. It is rather a relative number which says how long you are protected from a particular sunscreen. Let’s say you can stay in the sun for 10 minutes without burning, then a SPF15 would keep you protected for 150 minutes (i.e. 15*10). Similarly a SPF 30 will keep you protected for 300 minutes (30 times 10).
- SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UBV rays,
- SPF 30 blocks 97%,
- SPF 50 block 98%, and
- SPF 100+ blocks about 99.1%.
As you can see after the SPF 30 level there is not much significant increase in amount of sun protection.Usually a SPF 30 is more than enough unless you have extreme sensitive skin.
3. How much & How often?
Now that you have picked out a mineral based sunscreen with an appropriate SPF factor, the next step is its optimal application. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an ounce, or enough to fill a shot glass. But then it really depends on your body & physique. Apply liberally over all the exposed areas like back of the ears & neck. It is recommended to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or sooner if you go for a dive or sweat like a pig. Also,the usual ‘apply before 30 min’ rule doesn’t apply for mineral based sunscreens because they sit outside of your skin and act as sun blockers.
4. Water Resistant is not Water Proof:
Even water-resistant sunscreens only offer protection in water only for a specified period of time (many up to 40 minutes, some up to 80mins), after which the SPF value starts to decline.Never forget to apply sunscreen once you are out of the water.
5. Stay away from Spray:
A sunscreen spray may sound simple & easy to use, but more often you end up using much less sunscreen than what’s needed. There are some chances of even inhaling the chemicals while using spray. My humble suggestion would be to stick with lotion and avoid spray sunscreens, especially with kids as their lungs can be more sensitive to inhaling chemicals.
Sunscreen should not be your only bet when it comes to sun protection. Cover yourself up in light clothes. Wear other sun protective wear like hats & sunglasses. Dress kids in UV shirts and broad-brimmed hats that cover their ears & neck. Let them play in the shade. Hope this makes it easier to make an informed decision in choosing the best sunscreen for your family.. Have a safe fun-filled summer 🙂
What sunscreen did you stock up this summer? Do you have any tips that you would like to share?