The question that I seem to get asked the most these days is, ‘what SPF should I use on my child?’ It seems complicated but it needn’t be. Here are the most common suncream conundrums solved…
I’ve read that I shouldn’t use suncream until my child is six months old, is this true?
Yes. This is the advice recommended by doctors. Instead keep your baby out of the sun and in the shade at all times. There are many reasons why but this one will stick in your mind and ensure that you’re extra careful: one bad case of sunburn can double your child’s chances of skin cancer in later life.
Suncream irritates my childrens eyes/skin. What shall I use?
There are two types of sunscreen, “mineral” and “chemical.”
A "mineral" sunscreen contains the minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients sit on top of the skin, forming a barrier to deflect the sun’s rays. They also protect from the moment you put them on. They will seem a bit thicker and white but according to Marie Schmid, Head of Training for Clarins UK, this is a good thing because, “the guide colour means that you can be sure that you haven’t missed a patch.” We like these kid-friendly formulas: Clarins Sun Care Milk for Children 100% Mineral Screen 50+, £19.50 La Roche PosayAnthelios Dermo-Kids SPF50+, 12.75,
On the other hand, “chemical” suncreams need to be slathered on 15 to 30 minutes in advance to give the skin time to absorb them. The reason that they could cause irritation or allergic reactions is because the skin absorbs the active ingredients, although no evidence has actually proven this is the reason.
I used a ‘once-a-day’ formula but my kid still got burnt.
Don’t trust a label that promises to protect for eight hours – your kid jumps in the pool/dries off with a towel/ rolls in the sand. That stuff will come off. Soltan Kids Sand-Proof Dry Touch Lotion SPF30, £6 is pretty hardy stuff compared to a lot of others but I’d still reapply every couple of hours. Better to be safe than sorry.
It’s impossible to apply suncream to my wriggling child. How can I make sure that I don’t miss patches?
A spray is easier than a lotion when it comes to coating a wriggling body, but make sure you don’t scrimp. Pay special attention to burn-prone areas like the ears, nose, back of the neck, and shoulders. Some sunscreens (like Garnier Ambre Solaire Coloured Spray SPF50, £7.50) have a bright tint when you apply them and then fade to clear in a few minutes, making it easier to tell if you’re covering every inch of your child’s vulnerable skin. Get them involved too; make applying it a game and it’ll seem more fun.
I have some suncream left over from last years holiday, can I finish it off this summer?
No. Look for a little open jar symbol on the bottle. The number inside shows how long a product stays effective after you’ve opened it. Extreme heat can degrade the ingredients making it ineffective so it’s better to bin a half empty bottle before you go home.
PS: There is no real reason (unless you don’t fancy being coated in thick, blue lotion) why you can’t use the same suncream as your kids.