School’s out for the summer! On the agenda for your kiddo: rest, relaxation and lots of fun in the sun. But just one severe sunburn can not only dampen your child’s spirits—it can actually double his or her lifetime risk of skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You’re likely aware that young skin is especially vulnerable to sun damage. And slathering your son or daughter with sunscreen at the beach or pool may be second nature. But it’s important to remember that your child needs protection from the sun’s harsh rays every single time he or she heads outdoors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over the age of six months use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15. Higher SPFs offer greater sun protection, but only to a certain degree. “The additional benefits of using sunscreen with SPF 50+ are limited,” the Academy notes.
Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed areas of your child’s body approximately 30 minutes before he or she goes outside. Choose a water-resistant variety and reapply it every two hours—or immediately after your kiddo sweats or swims.
Types of sunscreen
Not all sunscreen is created equal. Many brands contain potentially harmful chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which may permeate skin, disrupt hormones and cause allergic reactions in some children. In addition, evidence indicates oxybenzone is “highly toxic to juvenile corals and other marine life,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The good news is, you don’t have to weigh the dangers of sun exposure against the risks of using chemical sunscreen. We’ve taken the time to identify some of our favorite all-natural sunscreens for kids, and we’re sharing them with you!
Natural Stick Sunscreens
- Elemental Herbs All Good Kid's Sunscreen Butter Stick. This convenient, organic sunscreen resists water and sweat for up to 80 glorious minutes! And did we mention that it’s coral reef-friendly?
- Badger Kids Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Stick Sunscreen. Formulated for the face, lips, nose and ears, this perfectly portable, all-natural sunscreen “contains just 6 ingredients, including non-nano zinc oxide, a safe and effective physical blocker." It's under 3 ounces, so it's air-travel friendly, too!
Natural Spray Sunscreens
- Kiss My Face Cool Sport Air Powered Spray™. Designed for those difficult to reach places, this must-try “obsessively natural” continuous spray sunscreen contains “Antioxidant Defenders™ (Goji Berry, Vitamins C & E), for advanced protection.” Sprays on clear and lasts for up to 40 minutes in water!
- Goddess Garden Organics Kids Natural Sunscreen Spray. Prefer a non-aerosol organic sunscreen spray for your child? This sheer, biodegradable was actually “created by a mom for her daughter!”
Natural Lotion Sunscreens
- Alba Kids Sunscreen. Organic, tear-free and biodegradable, this smart sunscreen offers “very emollient and botanically moisturizing” sun protection with 80 minutes of water resistance. Plus, you and your child will love its light tropical scent!
- Babyganics Cover-Up Baby™ Sunscreen Lotion. This gentle, hypoallergic, fragrance-free sunscreen for the face and body contains a “100% natural NeoNourish® Seed Oil Blend to help nurture and support baby’s skin.” Application is smooth and effortless!
Here are some other natural children’s sunscreens to consider.
Sunscreen application tips
Sunscreen does no good if your child won’t let you apply it. Following are some quick tips to help you help your son or daughter practice sun safely.
- Make it a habit. If sunscreen is applied daily, beginning in early childhood, it will become second nature for your kiddo, like bathing or brushing his or her teeth.
- Apply it in advance. Not only do experts recommend applying sunscreen approximately 30 minutes before sun exposure, it’s a lot easier to capture your child’s attention before he or she is distracted by other kids at the pool or park.
- Try a different type. Son or daughter not a fan of spray sunscreen? Switch to a lotion or stick instead.
- Take advantage of safety straps. Apply sunscreen when young children are safely strapped inside their high chair or car seat. They may squirm, but they won’t be able to escape!
- Reason with them. Explain the dangers of sun exposure and the importance of vigilant protection to older children. Apply to your son or daughter’s vanity if necessary (sun exposure can cause fine lines and wrinkles and skin cancer can cause scarring).