The importance of protecting ourselves and families from the sun is becoming more widely understood and appreciated and the possible dangers involved are now appreciated, particularly where children are involved. With this in mind, you may find the following very general information of interest although we would always recommend that you seek professional advice in order to ensure you are taking the correct precautions for your particular circumstances.
Can sunscreens be used on babies and young children?
We have no evidence to suggest that sunscreens are harmful to young children when used in small amounts on the face and hands. Their skin, however, is more likely than an adult’s to absorb the ingredients in the sunscreens, and the rest of their body is best protected with clothing
* rather than sunscreen. Babies under 6 months old should be kept out of the sun altogether.
What do SPF numbers mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and is a laboratory measure, which grades the ability of a sunscreen to filter out UVB rays. The higher the number, the more protection you get. The number gives you an idea of how much longer it would take your skin to become red when using a sunscreen, compared to being in the sun without using a sunscreen. For example, SPF 15 means you can spend fifteen times as long in the sun than if you were unprotected, before getting burned*. However, we also now believe that life time exposure to the sun increases our risk of skin cancer. So the Cancer Research Campaign recommends the use of SPF 15+ products for everyone. If you are unsure ask your pharmacist for advice.
What is the shelf life of a sunscreen?
Most sunscreens will last about two years, and should be stored at a temperature less than 250C. Sunscreens vary considerably is their ability to survive heat undamaged, but if you leave them in excessive heat (for instance in the glove-box of a hot car or in the sun on a beach), you run the risk that the product will deteriorate.
Types of sunscreens
Cream sunscreens use either physical barriers to reflect the sun’s rays and/or chemical absorbers to soak up UV radiation before it reaches the skin.
Green People Sun Care formulations combine sun blocking and sun reflecting ingredients with antioxidants to support the skin’s natural immune system and help protect against cell damage.
Manufacturers cannot claim a Sun Protection Factor rating (SPF) without using an officially listed sun filter. Green People chose titanium dioxide, a mineral pigment found in nature known to reflect the sun’s rays away from the skin. Another sun filter derived from cinnamon acid is added. Both ingredients are highly effective and are unlikely to irritate even the most sensitive skin. A star rating indicates a ratio of UVA and UVB protection, so for young children a SPF minimum of 15 with 4 stars would be wise.
Waterproof sunscreens are not the best choice if your child might need to sweat. Sweating is your child’s natural way of cooling his body. Remember too that even waterproof sunscreens are not clothing and towel proof.
How to use sunscreens
Ensure your chosen product is applied to all exposed areas, liberally (1-1.5mm) – if you only apply a thin layer it will provide less protection that the SPF on the bottle suggests. Apply to the skin approximately half and hour before going outside and be sure to re-apply frequently if sun exposure is to continue. Re-apply after swimming or excessive perspiration.
Sunglasses conforming to British standard 2724 or equivalent should protect eyes against sun damage that is thought to speed cataract formation and degeneration of the retina.
UV Protection clothing
UV protective clothing, BEWARE some makes offer low protection which decreases even further when the garments are wet – not exactly what you want when trying to protect your children from harmful UV in a beach/swimming pool environment. The highest quality UV protective fabric (C-TexTM) which provides maximum protection in both wet and dry states is used in our UV suits, wide brimmed and Legionnaires hats and is guaranteed to provide a minimum UPF (Ultra Violet Protection Factor) of 100+. They even have removable wear tags so that the tags can be removed from your child’s suit for example and returned (free of charge) for periodic testing to re-affirm the UPF rating if for example it is passed down from one child to the next.
Rory enjoyed romping around in his suit and Legionnaire’s hat on the beach and in the Indian Ocean in Durban South Africa, where the temperatures were in the 30’s with high humidity. The breathable suit kept him cool and comfortable and pale and interesting. I rinsed it out every night and it was ready to wear again by the morning.
Remember the main objective isn’t to get someplace, it’s to have fun times together.
*I have received the following comments from Sasha Wilson –
“The information you give on sun protection for children is inaccurate. Many clothes provide NO protection from UV light whatsoever and sun BLOCK should be used on face, hands, arms, legs, shoulders, backs and torsos if there is likely to be sun exposure. In other words, sunblock should be used on the entire body. I speak as someone who has researched sun problems due to my own situation – I am so light sensitive that I cannot go outside until it is truly dark. Childhood exposure to UV increases the chance of skin cancer by multiples that I dare not quote.
You may also be interested to know that the condition of ‘Prickly Heat’ is non existent. Almost always the symptoms attributed to Prickly Heat are due to a condition called Polymorphic Light Eruption, which is thought to affect as many as 1 in 15 people, although most sufferers can live totally normal lives without the need for diagnosis.
I came by your site running a search for a UV proof suit, which is going to be the only way for me to go outside and play with my children.
I hope this information is of help to you, and I am pleased to see that the idea of ‘sun sense’ is at last getting through. Now if governments will start to put controls on sunbeds, which are now thought to be causing nearly as much cancer as cigarettes we may start getting somewhere! :”
This information is given in good faith but I would like to stress I am not qualified in this subject so would recommend that you consult professionals. Research, advice and products regularly change so you may find it worthwhile checking out the following sites which should feature the most up to date information on the subject:-