Before, we discussed what we look for in sunscreens in terms of UV protection. We also listed what ingredients we look for (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) and which we avoid. The good news is that many sunscreens follow these guidelines.
However, it is not enough for a sunscreen to have broad spectrum protection, a high SPF number, and friendly ingredients. If it is too whitening, too thick, or too goopy kids (and parents) will not want to use it! Making a sunscreen that feels nice on the skin and rubs in easily is difficult. Many sunscreens on the market fail this test.
A good sunscreen should also be water resistant, especially if it will be used at the beach or pool. The FDA has specified tests that should be used for water resistance claims. Generally waterproofing means adding a material to the formula that makes the UV filters stick to the skin when wet. If a product says that it is water resistant for 40 minutes or 80 minutes, that means that it will still provide the SPF protection after being underwater for that amount of time. We look for at least 40 minutes water resistance.
Even with the right ingredients and water resistance, sunscreens don’t stay on the skin all day. They rub off on clothes, towels, etc. and come off in water. It’s very important to reapply regularly for good protection. If the product feels nice on skin and is fun to use, it’s easier to get the kids to reapply.
Finally, we are very cautious with spray sunscreens. The sunscreen particles form a mist in the air that can easily be inhaled. And who knows what sunscreens and UV filters do in the lungs and airways. Better to be safe and avoid sprays.
So we have a hard time finding good sunscreens for children. There are some good ones available. It takes a lot of searching and decoding of ingredient lists!
Most important is to always use sunscreen. Skin cancer is a bigger hazard than any sunscreen ingredient.
Let us know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading!