We all want our kids to develop good habits at a young age. One of the habits I want all kids to learn is to wear sunscreen daily. I wish I wore sunscreen everyday as a child not only because I run a non-toxic mineral suncare brand called Block Island Organics today, but because I truly believe the one beauty tip to preventing skin aging and cancer is to wear sunscreen daily. The effects of sun damage are cumulative, so the earlier we start wearing sunscreen the better.
Good habits start with parents so I’d like to provide some helpful tips and advice to protecting your child’s skin from the sun at an early age and into the future.
Babies Under 6 Months
“Babies’ skin is less mature compared to adults, and infants have a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults. Both these factors mean that an infant’s exposure to the chemicals in sunscreens may be much greater, increasing the risk of side effects from the sunscreen.”
If for some reason you cannot keep your baby out of the sun, cover them up with lightweight clothing and a hat. Also make sure they are hydrated and do not overheat.
Babies 6-12 Months
At this age, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, it is safe for babies to use sunscreen. I recommend a mineral sunscreen versus a chemical sunscreen on your infants. The Environmental Working Group have expressed concerns over the use of chemical sunscreens.
Your baby’s skin is still sensitive at this age. If you want to be very careful, some dermatologists recommend a sunscreen that only uses zinc oxide in the active ingredients (check out the back of sunscreen bottles to see) as they believe it is the safest mineral sunscreen active ingredient. The other mineral sunscreen active ingredient is titanium dioxide, which is safe as well.
Children Over 12 Months and Up (and adults too)
Your kids can and should continue to wear sunscreen at this age and older. It is recommended to apply sunscreen on them every two hours when they are outside.
A quick note about spray sunscreens. I know spray sunscreens seem convenient and easy but please do not use them on your babies or kids and even yourself. Consumer Reports, the FDA, and Environmental Working Group all recommend against using spray sunscreens. Some spray sunscreens have flammable ingredients, your kids can potentially inhale the sunscreen. It’s hard to achieve full coverage as the sunscreen can easily be blown away while spraying.