Summer is here with a vengeance and we’ve pulled out the beach toys, swimsuits and the sunscreen. Unlike our own baby-oil applying days, we now know that protecting our family’s skin from the sun’s harsh rays is right up there with eating right and a good night’s sleep—essential to our well-being. But how much do you know about the products you’re putting on your baby’s skin? According to skin care expert and founder of Episencial’s, Kim Walls, M.S. there are a few things every parent should know when it comes to summertime and skincare for kids
Baby skin is very different from adult skin. The skin of a full-term newborn is up to five times thinner than an adult’s skin. As children grow, develop and change – so does their skin. For the first two years of life, and to a lesser degree, for the first five years of life, the skin is growing to become fully functioning. Because developing skin is not fully mature, it cannot keep itself appropriately hydrated and it doesn’t produce enough melanin – the body’s own version of sun protection. As a result, recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its stance to now recommend the use of sunscreen for babies less than 6 months of age (learn more at www.healthychildren.org).
The skin is an important part of the body’s immune system and, along with the lungs and digestive system, is one of the body’s main pathways for eliminating toxins. In addition to creating a barrier against the elements, the skin houses immune cells and produces antibodies. All natural and organic skincare is an actively healthy way to supporting your baby’s immune
system, simply by reducing the amount of synthetic chemicals the skin and body have to process.
So where does sunscreen fit it? There are both natural and chemical sun protection products available. If you are looking to reduce chemicals in, on and around your children, look for mineral-based products where either zinc or titanium is the active ingredient. Mineral-based sunscreen works on the surface of the skin, creating a reflective layer that significantly reduces the amount of sun rays absorbed by the skin. With a chemical sunscreen, with active ingredients such as Aminobenzoic Acid, Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC), Ethylhexyl p-Methoxycinnamate, Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Octinoxate, Octisalate, and Oxybenzone, are designed to work within skin cells.
Did you know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require sunscreens to guard against UVA radiation? Both UVA and UVB rays can cause damage so it is important that your sun protection addresses both. Fortunately there are all natural, mineral based products that offer broad spectrum protection with a high level of SPF (sun protection factor).
But how much SPF should you look for? The best SPF value for you or your child depends on what you will be doing and the season. SPF35 is just right for playing at the beach, park, or in the back yard and is perfect for newborn skin.
If you’ve chosen a mineral sunscreen, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a product with an SPF greater than 35. If the SPF is higher, look more closely at the ingredient label because you will probably find a chemical sunscreen among the active ingredient. SPF 35 will protect from about 97% – 98% of the harmful wavelength of UV rays.
In addition to preventing sun damage, it is also important to combat the negative effects of increased exposure to pollution in the ocean and air and also by the sheer heat on the skin’s surface. Sunscreen with aloe can help cool the skin powerful antioxidants like green tea extract can offset skin problems and prevent lasting damage from sun exposure.
The skin’s ability to perform essential immune functions can be compromised by the damaging dryness resulting from exposure to chlorine from pools and typical city water supplies. Using a daily moisturizer will help maintain skin hydration and create a water-resistant barrier to reduce absorption of pollutants through the skin to support overall health.
Ingredients in personal care products can be absorbed the skin, especially the thin, delicate skin of newborns. This is why the choice of products is important. Using 100 percent natural products to soothe, nourish and protect the skin, rather than the chemically-laden products so often marketed for babies and kids, reduces risk and creates an opportunity for improving the health and wellness of your child.
–Kim Walls, M.S. Episencial’s founder and CEO, has shared her experience internationally with dermatologists and estheticians, as well as childbirth and postpartum professionals, underscoring therelationship between optimum health and skin care. As a mom and skincare expert, Kim believes that skin, particularly for babies and kids, is a health issue: it is either an opportunity or a risk, depending upon how you treat it.