Best Sunscreen for Babies Buying Guide
Children are naturally adventurous, that is commonly agreed with. Here at ParentsNeed HQ, we are all for letting them explore the world outside, with the hopes that they would learn to become well rounded children. Though the outside world is full of knowledge, it is also full of harmful elements, one of these being the sun.
While the sun makes it possible for us to live and survive, it may also cause us harm. The sun, as we all know, is our most important source of energy for life. One form of energy that the sun provides is ultraviolet or UV radiation. A type of UV radiation, UVB plays an important role in the synthesis of vitamin D in the human body. To be more specific, UVB induces the production of vitamin D. What is so important about vitamin D? Vitamin D regulates our body’s calcium metabolism, meaning it greatly affects our bone health as well as our nervous system. This is why it has always been advised, that to ensure the healthy growth of our children, we expose them to a little bit of sun, particularly in the morning. A little bit. Did you ever wonder why only a little bit is advised and why it’s mostly advised to be done in the morning? Overexposure to UV radiation can cause both acute and long term harmful effects on the skin such as sunburn, different types of cancer as well as promoting the premature aging of the skin. It is best to catch the sun early in the morning and avoid sun exposure during mid-day, when the sun’s heat is at its peak. Such exposure can surely leave us with a sunburn. We should understand that sunburn is a much more serious threat to our little children and babies, whose skins are very sensitive.
Now how will you keep the skin of your baby healthy if and when sun exposure can’t be avoided? You can cover them up with protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, pants and even wide-brimmed hats. But what if these types of clothing do not agree well with your planned activities for the day like sports or a trip to the beach? What is the best way to allow tour children to enjoy their youthful days under the sun while still keeping them protected? If you were into spoken word songs in the 90’s, you would know that Baz Luhrmann has told us the answer years ago:
Sunscreen is a wonder product designed to keep our skin healthy and protected against the UV rays from the sun. How do sunscreens work? They either block or absorb the UV rays from the sun. There are two types of sunscreens, the physical sunscreen and the chemical sunscreen. Physical sunscreens work by blocking and reflecting the UV radiation away from the skin. Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV radiation and change it to heat by a chemical reaction.
Unfortunately, the benefits of sunscreen are underrated most of the time, and people tend to do away with sunscreens. But you are not one of these people, yes? You’re probably here wanting to know which type is the best sunscreen to buy for your baby. Lucky for you, we are here to provide you with guidelines in buying the sunscreen product that is best suited for you and your baby.
There are a number of choices for sunscreen products out in the market. It could be quite overwhelming, but don’t panic. We have got your back. The goal of this buying guide is to help you determine the best choice of sunscreen for your children, based on your preferences and priorities. We aim to enlighten you so that you may arrive at an informed choice. We at ParentsNeed HQ understand the importance of choosing only the best for our little ones.
So what are the things to be considered in choosing the best sunscreen for our mini me’s, then?
Which type of sunscreen do you prefer?
The choice is between physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. If you have no initial preference, let us give you a bit of information about the difference between the two, aside from their mode of action, of course. Physical sunscreens are mainly composed of mineral ingredients whilst chemical sunscreens are made of, well, chemicals.
Physical sunscreens provide immediate sun protection as soon as application on the skin is done. Owing to their mineral content, physical sunscreens are heavier and have thicker consistency. They also tend leave pasty stains on the skin, which are more obvious on darker colored skins.
Chemical sunscreens are thinner in consistency and are, thus, more wearable. Daily or regular use is easier to comply with due to its ease of application and lighter feel on the skin. With chemical sunscreens, however, immediate protection may not be expected as it usually takes around 20 minutes before its effectivity sets in.
With that said, it might be helpful for you to know that physical sunscreens are almost always recommended for children use due to their kid-friendly formulations.
Does it provide protection?
This is the primary purpose of you getting one, after all, right? The sunscreen that you will choose has to be able to meet this requirement. But what kind of protection would you want for your kid? Obviously, you would want one that offers broad-spectrum protection. The best sunscreen is the type that can protect against both UVA and UVB.
You might be wondering, “What are UVA and UVB?” Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) are types of ultraviolet radiation. They differ in wavelengths, and this difference affects the amount of which that could be absorbed by the ozone layer. The long-wave UVA is not absorbed by the ozone layer and can therefore completely pass through, meaning there can be an abundance of UVA in our living space. The ozone layer absorbs most of the medium-wave UVB and only allows some amount to pass through into our atmosphere.
Products that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide work best at effectively blocking UVA rays. For UVB protection, a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher will do the trick.
How high should the upper limit for SPF should be, exactly? To give you a bit of an idea, if you multiply the label claim of the sunscreen’s SPF (Sun Protection Factor) to the time it takes for your skin to burn without any sunscreen, you would have determined the sunscreen’s effectiveness. Let’s say your skin would burn in 10 minutes in the absence of sunscreen. Applying an SPF 15 sunscreen would allow you sun protection for 150 minutes before your skin would get burnt. There has been much controversy about the label claims of sunscreens. Studies have been made that sunscreens with higher SPF only offer a marginal increase in sun protection. Any claim beyond SPF 50 is considered misleading. It does not necessarily follow that the effectivity of a product with higher SPF would last longer than a sunscreen with a lower SPF. These sunscreens with higher SPF would still require reapplications as instructed. With that said, let us not get excited about high SPF sunscreens since these do not necessarily mean the best choice.
What do you need it for?
You have to consider the type of activity your kids will be participating in. Are they going out for a light walk in the park? Will sports be involved? Are they participating in a play session at the playground? Or are they going to the beach for some water fun? If you answered yes, the best choice of sunscreen for your child would be sunscreens that are sweat and water resistant. According to FDA rules, the label SPF of a sunscreen claiming to be “water resistant” should be the SPF value determined after 40 minutes of water immersion. The label SPF of a sunscreen claiming to be “very water resistant” must have the same label SPF value after 80 minutes of water immersion.
If you are looking for a sunscreen for everyday use, you really don’t need a sunscreen that is water resistant. Light and sheer types of sunscreens could be your best choice.
Is it non-toxic and kid-friendly?
Of course, you would want products that are actually safe for your children to use. The skin of our kids and babies is very sensitive and vulnerable. The best sunscreen to choose would be the ones that offer protection without getting absorbed by the skin. As mentioned earlier, commonly recommended sunscreens for babies are usually physical blockers that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These ingredients are less likely to irritate their young skin. Ingredients to watch out for include PABAs, dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, and sulisobenzone. These substances may be biologically harmful, and it is best you keep them away from your child’s skin.
Will it get a positive reception from your child?
Yes, you also need to consider whether your child will actually like putting on the sunscreen or not. It is his/her skin, after all. The comfort of your child should be taken into consideration as well. Will your child complain of the sticky feeling on his/her skin? Will the scent irritate your baby? This is important in that your child’s approval of the product determines his/her compliance to using it.
What mode of application do you prefer?
Sunscreens are available in the form of a lotion, cream, gel, spray or other topical applications. Sprays are generally easy to apply and they effectively cover the hard to reach areas of our child’s body, but they also pose the risk of your child inhaling the product. Lotions are very common and are easier to apply in a liberal amount. Top-rating sunscreens usually come in lotion or cream form.
Is it within your ideal price range?
For some, this may be the most important consideration of all. We at ParentsNeed HQ are well aware of the difficulties in keeping a balance between getting the best for our children and keeping our budget intact. It is best to compare a number of products that are of similar specifications and see where you would get the best value for your money. A little heads up, physical sunscreens are generally more expensive than their chemical counterpart.
Is it highly rated among sunscreen choices?
It would be helpful to conduct your own research and see which products are highly recommended by other proactive parents such as yourself. Check out online reviews about best sunscreen products and visit the websites of the products themselves. There are certification bodies such as ECOCERT, an inspection and certification body for human being and sustainable development, from which you could verify products with. There are also a few organizations you could look into, that conduct researches to provide useful and unbiased product information, especially regarding health safety and positive environmental impacts. As an example, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. They conduct breakthrough researches on products with the goal of empowering the consumers to make healthy and informed choices. Just this May of 2016, they have released their list of best-scoring sunscreen for babies based on the product’s safety and effectivity.
How to buy the best sunscreen for your child?
Now that you’ve narrowed down your list, the buying part should be easier. If you’re buying from an online store, make sure that you’ve double-checked all the details and specifications. Again, it won’t hurt to do a little research. List down the things you are looking for in a sunscreen and verify if the product meets the requirements. If you have the luxury of time to run to your local health store, then all the better. This will give you the chance to fully inspect the product and get into the details of its label claim. More importantly, you have the opportunity to do a compatibility test with your child’s skin. The product could claim to be the safest and would contain all-natural ingredients, but if it is not compatible with your child’s skin then it still is no good. When your kid elicits undesired reactions from the sunscreen product, it is best to consult your doctor about the best option for your child’s mode of sun protection.
Some final important tips to remember:
- Apply the product liberally on all your child’s bare skin.
- Take note of the time needed for effectivity to set in as claimed by the product’s label.
- Reapply the product as instructed to remain protected. If no instruction is available, reapply the sunscreen at least every two hours, or after every swimming session or excessive sweating.
- Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days to keep protected from UV radiation, which is still present in the atmosphere.
We at ParentsNeed HQ, ourselves, have come up with our own top choices for the best sunscreens products for babies. Check out our reviews of the Top 5 Best Sunscreens for Babies and see if maybe one of our choices could be yours too. And our top pick is Thinkbaby Sunscreen, SPF 50+
No matter what type of sunscreen you end up buying, the return of investment highly depends upon its correct usage. We hope our guidelines have helped you explore your options and make an informed choice. Good luck buying, and remember: wear sunscreen!