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Shining the Light on Sunscreens: A Guide to Choosing the Best for Toddlers

Updated: Oct 6, 2021

two toddlers in swimsuits playing with water outdoros
Choosing the Best Sunscreen for Baby

In hot and humid countries like Singapore, feeling the sun’s glaring rays against your skin is a common experience.

Just 5 minutes of standing in the heat without shelter’s enough to leave your skin with a tinge of redness and a sharp, prickly sensation like it’s on fire.

To protect your skin against this harsh element, sunscreens are effective and affordable products to use. A bottle of sunscreen keeps your skin healthy by safeguarding it against sunburn, as well as alleviating the visual appearance of sun damage to the skin.

For little tots and children, their delicate skin requires greater care and attention.

Therefore, it’s important to make a wise and informed choice when you’re selecting sunscreen to protect them from harmful UV rays.

The Buying Basics of Sunscreen for Children

Now, how does your typical sunscreen-purchasing experience look like? For many consumers, it involves taking a quick look at the SPF indicated to conclude the search - the higher, the better.

It’s important to note that SPF shouldn’t be the only decision-making factor and that other aspects should be carefully considered. Here are some essential ways to choose sunscreen for your kids!

Use a Physical Sunscreen

bottles of sunscreen from L'eaine Skincare
A Physical Sunscreen Is a Better Option

Sunscreens come in two distinct categories: physical and chemical variations.

There are several vital differences between them, but the main contrast is in how they work fundamentally. A physical sunscreen functions by staying on top of the skin and acting as a barrier to block the sun’s damaging rays.

It uses minerals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as its principal active ingredients.

On the other hand, chemical sunscreen permeates into the skin before it absorbs the UV rays. These rays are then converted into heat and expelled from the body. Some active ingredients in this sunscreen are oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate.

When you compare the two, physical sunscreens stand out as a natural and toxic-free solution for children.

Suitable for Sensitive Skin

Toddlers and young children possess thinner skin than adults. This makes them particularly vulnerable to chemicals. Therefore, choosing a sunscreen that’s appropriate for their delicate skin is important.

The sunscreen should contain a gentle formulation, suitable for sensitive skin, and consist of no chemicals. Ideally, it should also be fragrance- and paraben-free, both properties that can trigger allergic skin conditions.

Since chemical sunscreens have chemical ingredients, usage may not be appropriate for children as they may trigger allergies and irritation. In more severe cases, the chemicals may even penetrate through the thin layer of skin and enter the bloodstream to harm other areas of the body.

A physical sunscreen won’t affect children the same way and may enhance the appearance of their skin instead.

An SPF of at Least 30

sunlight shining against a palm tree
Determining SPF

What does the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) mean?

This figure refers to how well your sunscreen protects the skin against sunburns. To be exact, it indicates how long the sun’s UV rays will take to redden your skin when you use your sunscreen.

For example, a sunscreen with SPF 30 takes 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing it.

Contrary to popular belief, a high SPF doesn’t mean that it protects your skin better. SPF 30 filters out about 97% of UVB rays, and the difference between SPF 30 and 50 is only a 1% filtering increase.

Would you spend a lot more to buy a sunscreen that’s SPF 50 and above when SPF 30 easily meets your needs at an affordable price?

Protection Against UVA and UVB Rays

While SPF measures UVB rays, it doesn’t indicate anything about the UVA rays that surround us daily. UVA rays don’t cause sunburn, but they do lead to skin ageing and darkening because they penetrate deeper into the skin.

Find a broad-spectrum sunscreen that shields your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Physical sunscreens usually do the job, while chemical sunscreens need a large number of ingredients combined to do the same thing.

This may contribute to greater discomfort and irritation.

Physical Sunscreen or Chemical Sunscreen?

At this point, it’s evident that physical sunscreens have a plethora of benefits as compared to chemical sunscreens. It’s especially suitable for babies and children, pregnant women and those with skin conditions.

Whichever sunscreen you decide to buy, remember to apply it meticulously regularly, no matter how high the SPF level is.

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