3 Sunscreen Safety Tips You Probably Don’t Know, But Definitely Should

by Janelle Sorensen, Healthy Child Advisory Board Member

The dog days of summer have arrived early at Chez Sorensen and my girls are practically living in the pool.  I love that they’re spending oodles of time outdoors, but we’re going through copious amounts of sunscreen and my kids aren’t exactly fond of the laborious effort it takes to slather their bodies repeatedly throughout the day.

Being 9 and 12 (almost), there’s a lot of surface area to cover and during that time they have ample opinions about how the process could be improved. Their questions this year actually prompted some interesting conversation about sunscreen safety and issues that most people probably don’t know, but definitely should.

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5 Green Products: Outdoor Research, A Butterfly’s Ball, Sprout Change, Change the World with Service Learning, Zarbee’s

1.  Outdoor Research Girls Solstice Bucket Hat and Infant/Toddler Swift Cap Bug Protection

Protecting your children’s heads from the sun and bugs is very important during outdoor activities.  I wish I would have been more insistent my children wear hats as toddlers, as now that they are older, they usually chose to go bare headed and suffer the consequences.

Outdoor Research is a company I have long supported for adventure gear and am pleased the line has expanded to include children.

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5 Green Products: k & j Sunprotective Clothing, Magic Bean Wishes, Aqueduck, Baby Bullet, Pins on a Map

1. k & j Sunprotective Clothing

It’s hard to think of the need for sun protection when we have snow on the ground, but spring really is just around the corner (I sound like Ma in The Long Winter).  Although the sun is good for people, and sunscreen blocks vitamin D absorption, as well as contains cancer causing chemicals, sun protection is necessary for extended periods outdoors.

k & j Sunprotective Clothing is a chemical-free, cotton line of clothing for infants and toddlers that provides UPF 50 protection and blocks 99% of the sun’s rays.

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Sun Safety for Kids: Azur Pro-Cellular Natural Sunscreen

Azur natural sunscreenWhen I was a child, sunburns were common.  We used suntan lotion to get tans not to protect us from the sun.  Fortunately for today’s children, we know better.  Sun damage in childhood can cause health problems as adults.  Although it is important to expose your children to natural sunlight for vitamin absorption, these periods should be limited and occur during off peak hours.

When it comes to sunscreen ingredients, I trust the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to tell me what is safe.  EWG recommends:

Which sunscreens are best for children?
Since kids are more vulnerable to damage caused by the sun and to harmful effects of chemical exposure, you want to make sure you choose a sunscreen that is rated highly in terms of both effectiveness (against both UVA and UVB radiation) and safety. Use EWG’s guide to help you find one. If your child is going to be swimming or playing in the water look for a sunscreen that says it is water resistant. Avoid sprays, powders and products with bug repellant. Make sure to apply sunscreen generously before going out and reapply often. (Don’t believe claims that a product will remain effective for a certain period of time, as these are not always reliable.) Infants under 6 months need special protection Ñ at this age, a fair-skinned baby does not have melanin proteins for sun protection and needs to be kept out of the sun. The AAP recommends that you avoid using sunscreen on children younger than 6 months unless protective shade and clothing are not available. In this case you can apply a minimal amount to exposed skin (AAP 2008). Remember that sunscreen is just one part of a sun-healthy lifestyle. Limiting sun exposure and wearing protective clothing are even more important than wearing sunscreen.

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