Best recommended sunscreens for children and adults

Mom applying sunscreen to child at beach

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) To keep your skin and your children’s skin healthy, it needs to be protected from the sun. But are all sunscreens created equally? We asked Dr. Mary Yurko, pediatric dermatologist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, for her best sunscreen guidelines.

The Basics

Dr. Yurko says she doesn’t recommend a particular brand of sunscreen, but you should stick to one with SPF of 30 or greater. Make sure it says it is broad spectrum, which means it protects against UVB and UVA rays. A good sunscreen is either water resistant (stays effective for 40 minutes in the water) or very water resistant (stays effective for 80 minutes in the water). Remember to re-apply sunscreen every two hours, and use an adequate amount to cover exposed skin.

For Children

For children less than six months old, avoid using sunscreen. Protect their skin from the sun by keeping them in the shade and dressing them in long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses.

For children six months and older, use a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which is most appropriate for the sensitive skin of young children. Even when using sunscreen, keep children in the shade and dress them in clothing that will protect their skin from the sun.

What about natural sunscreens?

Dr. Yurko says there is no true “natural” sunscreen. Physical sunscreens protect the skin by deflecting the sun’s rays. These contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens protect the skin by absorbing the sun’s rays. These contain one or more of many possible ingredients including oxybenzone or avobenzone. When you see the term “baby” on sunscreen, it usually means that it contains only active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are less likely to irritate a baby’s sensitive skin.

Resources:

411 on SPF, UV-A and UV-B

Sunshine and babies

Skin Cancer Prevention

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