Suncream for kids. It’s a bit of a minefield. Which factor is best? How often should I reapply? How do I even get it on them without a battle?
As it’s well and truly suncream season in the UK at the moment (thanks to our recent heat waves) – and we know people will be starting to get organised for summer holidays, we wanted to try and put together some useful information and advice to try and make decisions about suncream a little easier for you – and so that you can focus on the fun stuff, like holiday clothes shopping and counting down the days…
It’s important to make sure you have the right factor, as well as buying a suncream with a high UVA rating.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and protects against UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburn, and are linked to skin cancer.
UVA stands for Untraviolet-A – another type of sun ray that has been linked to cancer. Sun creams carry a star rating to show how much UVA protection they offer, and Cancer Research’s health expert, Sophia Lowes says you want one with 4 or 5 stars for the UVA rating.
Suncreams fall into 2 categories:
- Chemical suncreams – use chemicals to absorb the sun’s rays
- Physical suncreams – use natural compounds to block the sun’s rays
According to a recent study by King’s College, most people who use an SPF 20 suncream will actually be getting something like SPF 4 because they aren’t applying enough. Given this fact, it’s better to use a much higher SPF than you think is necessary.
For children it is recommended to use AT LEAST factor 30 – so long as you are applying it according to the instructions and ensuring enough coverage, and re-application throughout the day. If in doubt, always go for a higher factor!
For babies under 6 months old, sun avoidance is generally advised – but if necessary, physical suncreams can be used in infants – these include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in the ingredients.
For babies aged 6-12 months, a chemical suncream can be used, although protective clothing should also be worn.
How often should I re-apply?
According to a recent study by King’s College London, people are risking skin cancer and getting less than HALF the sun protection that they think because they apply such a thin layer. Scientists have therefore made some recommendations, using ‘the teaspoon method’ to ensure adequate protection:
It’s important to apply at least:
- half a teaspoon (3ml) to each arm
- half a teaspoon to the face and neck
- a full teaspoon (6ml) to each leg
- a full teaspoon to the front of your body
- a full teaspoon to the back of your body
Make sure you cover all areas that could be exposed to the sun – don’t forget shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks and tops of their feet. According the the NHS, the most common places for sunburn are children’s shoulders and back of their neck when they’re playing.
Always follow the instructions on the bottle – but as a rule of thumb, if your child is going to be in direct sunlight for a long period of time, you should first apply suncream 15-20 minutes before going out, and reapply every 2-3 hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.
The best technique depends on your child, and how happy they are to sit or stand still – or have it on their skin. Distraction techniques can be useful – perhaps give them a toy to hold or play with while you apply.
One top tip from us at Worldwide Kids is to stand your child in front of you, facing away to apply it to their face – similarly to how you would apply cream to your own face. This is much easier and tends to avoid the odd unintentional poke in the eye!
We hope you’ve found this helpful – and remember that even if your kids are in the shade, they can still burn, so always apply suncream.