Sun Safety — Different Types of Sunscreen

Dermatologists recommend that children use a broad spectrum sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection and an SPF rating of 30 or higher. However, choosing the right sunscreen can be a daunting task for parents, with so many different kinds of sunscreen on the market and a number of options to consider.

Forms
Sunscreens come in several different forms, each with their own pros and cons.

Creams and Lotions
Most common type.
Help minimize dry skin.
Tend to be messier than the other options.

Sticks
Best for the face because they are sweat-proof and less likely to drip.
Can be used on the lips.
Can be applied around the eyes to minimize eye irritation.
Good for protecting the ears.

Gels
One of the least oily options.
Tend to sweat off, so need to be reapplied frequently.
Work well for oily skin.

Sprays
One of the least oily options.
Wash off easily so need to be reapplied frequently.
Good for kids because they are easy to apply; be sure to cover your child’s face while spraying.
There are some concerns about inhalation, so when using a pump or spray sunscreen apply the product on your hands first and then wipe it on your child.

Towelettes and Wipes
New, convenient product that makes putting sunscreen on young children very easy and mess-free.

Oils
Most do not contain sufficient amounts of sunscreen; usually have an SPF less than 2.
Some people do not like how greasy they feel.

Powders
There are concerns about inhalation of nano- or micro-sized zinc and titanium in powdered sunscreens. If you want the benefits of a mineral sunscreen, choose a zinc- or titanium lotion instead.

Waterproof vs. Water-resistantIt is important to use waterproof or water-resistant sunscreen for children engaged in water-related activities. The FDA considers a product to be water-resistant if it maintains its SPF level after 40 minutes of water exposure, while a product is considered waterproof if it maintains its SPF level after 80 minutes.

Cosmetic Concerns
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are good UVB and UVA blockers, but some people are concerned that they appear too white when applied to the skin. They can also be messy, temporarily adding white marks to clothing.

Allergies
Some children can have an allergic reaction to sunscreen. If your child develops a rash, try using a different brand or form. Look for:
PABA-free sunscreen
Oil-free sunscreen
Hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, chemical-free sunscreen
Mineral-based sunscreen
If the rash persists, contact your child’s pediatrician.

Application Tips
Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet, back of the neck, backs of the knees, and shoulders. Rub it in well.
Apply sunscreen to all areas of the body, but be careful around the eyes. If your baby rubs sunscreen into his or her eyes, wipe eyes and hands clean with a damp cloth.
Put sunscreen on 30 minutes before going outdoors; it needs time to absorb into the skin.
Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours; it wears off after swimming, sweating, or simply from soaking into the skin.