Get the basics right
First things first, when shopping for kids’ suncare, we always advise looking for the highest factor possible such as a broad-spectrum SPF 50+. The term broad-spectrum means that a sunscreen contains both UVA (the rays that penetrate into the deeper layer of the skin) and UVB protection (the rays responsible for top layer skin damage and sun burn). SPF (sun protection factor) refers to the amount of protection a sunscreen provides just from UVB.
“UVB only penetrates the top layer of the skin but is associated with sunburn, UV-Burn,” explains FRCP Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Justine Hextall. “UVA penetrates deeper to the dermis and damages the skin structure.”.
Choosing between sprays, lotions and mists
If your child has particularly dry and sensitive skin, it’s advisable to apply a hydrating lotion to the face and body. Be generous and use at least a teaspoon of cream for a small area such as the face, applying more to larger areas like the legs and tummy. La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Hydrating Kids Lotion SPF50 absorbs quickly and easily and contains nourishing shea butter and is also suitable for use on eczema-prone skin.
If your kids don’t like the feel of creams or are busy toddlers that don’t like sitting still for too long, you can try a mist instead. The Anthelios Invisible Kids Mist SPF50+ can be used on the face and body and goes on white initially to help you apply it evenly. It also has a very high resistance to water. Additionally the Anthelios Invisible Kids Spray SPF50+ provides exceptional protection while being resistant to sand, water and sweat. It’s also less greasy than many traditional creams.
For babies over six months old, apply a very gentle sunscreen such as the Anthelios Dermo-Paediatrics Baby Lotion SPF50+. It has a gentle formula that’s enriched with a naturally derived shea butter and Thermal Spring Water and protects the skin with a combination of mineral filters and a mexoplex filtering system.
Knowing how often to apply suncream
Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before exposure and then re-applied frequently and generously every two hours. This maintains protection especially after swimming, perspiring or towelling. You should also avoid exposure to the sun during the hottest hours of the day (between 10am and 3pm) and keep children under three years of age out of the sun and in the shade. A hat, t-shirt and sunglasses are also essential and will help to keep children from becoming over-exposed to the sun.
Sunscreen isn’t just for sunny days
While you may automatically reach for the sunscreen on a hot, sunny day, it’s also important to remember that UVA can damage the skin on cloudy, grey days too. “Up to 40 percent of the sun's ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day,” explains Dr Justine Hextall. “As we tend to be unaware of this, we often find some of the most serious sunburns occur on cloudy days”.