Sun’s out! And there is probably no way from keeping your little ones from playing and swimming outside in these summer weeks. And who can blame them? These outdoor summer activities are fun and full of family bonding (hopefully we moms can squeeze in some R&R for ourselves, too).
Skin protection during the summer season (and beyond) should be a priority for all moms, not only for our kids but for the whole family as well. Here are some tips on how to keep safe from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays!
But before we start: what are the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays?
It can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and early skin aging. Need I say more
1.Number one and most important tip: stay away from the sun
Sunscreen and protective clothing are just secondary measures for preventing the harmful effects of sun exposure. The best way to protect yourself is actually just to stay indoors. 🙂
2.Be mindful of the peak hours of sunlight
Peak hours where the sun’s rays are most intense are between 10am to 4pm (that’s the whole day!). It pays to be mindful of these times so that you can plan your day and activities
3.For babies under 6 months
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Babies under 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Bring baby into the shade and make sure the little one is adequately protected with clothing that is breathable but covers the arms and legs (cotton clothing is lightweight and can be used for this purpose). For hats, choose a wide-brimmed hat that is able to cover the ears and back of the neck.
4.Choosing the right sunscreen
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) gives us a summary of what we should look for in a sunscreen, so be sure to check the label before you make the purchase:
- Broad-spectrum protection: check the label for the term “broad-spectrum” protection, this means that the sunscreen will be able to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays.
- SPF 30 or higher: SPF, which means “Sun Protection Factor” is a measure of how much a sunscreen will protect you mainly from UVB rays. At SPF 30, you are protected against 97% of UVB rays. Take note though, that you should follow the application directions (how frequently and how much) in order to maximize a sunscreen’s effects.
Quick question: does that mean that an SPF of more than 50 will provide more protection?
Studies have shown that there is no significant advantage when using a sunscreen with more than 50 SPF than those from the SPF 30 to 50 range. Also, if you use a sunscreen with a very high SPF (above 50), you might get a false sense of security that your sunscreen is working extra to protect you, when in fact it does not compared to lower SPFs.
Always remember: NO sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays, and higher SPFs do not mean they protect you longer without reapplication!
- Water resistant: The AAP reminds consumers that there is no water proof sunscreen, but water resistance is a feature we should look for when purchasing. This is not only important when swimming, because we could also “sweat off” our sunscreens during these hot summer days.
Never has a generation become label and ingredient-conscious until ours, and sunscreens are not exempt from a mommy’s keen eye and research skills. Some of the ingredients that you may see on a sunscreen label are: zinc oxide and titanium oxide. According to the AAP, they recommend avoiding sunscreens with the ingredient: oxybenzone, because this may have hormonal properties.
6.When to apply and re-apply sunscreen
Sunscreen is needed 365 days a year (even on cloudy days as the sun’s rays can penetrate cloudy skies, and bounce of asphalt and sand). Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors as the sunscreen needs time for it to work. Re-apply every 2 hours or after physical activity such as swimming and sweating and as directed on the label.
IMG_63207.How much to apply
It is recommended to apply sunscreen on all exposed body areas (don’t miss the face, back of the ears, feet and hands). The AAD gives an easy to remember tip: you should use the amount of sunscreen that can fill a shotglass (for young adults). For taller and bigger ones, remember to adjust the amount of sunscreen applied.
8.What is the best type of sunscreen?
According to the AAD (and I quote): “The best sunscreen is the one that you will use again and again!”
Wear sunglasses that provide UV protection and wide-brimmed hats that cover the ears and back of the neck. For those who are going swimming, wear protective clothing as well, such as swim shirts.
Check that the material of the clothing is breatheable, such as cotton ones, and make sure the clothing covers the arms and legs
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Children who are having fun at the pool may forget that they are thirsty, so it’s your job to make sure they get the water that they need.
There you go! I hope this has helped you be more ready for the upcoming summer fun! 🙂
A huge thank you to two wonderful friends who happen to be doctors who helped me with this article: Dr. Symon Concha (He is a Dermatologist specializing in Photodermatology. Currently he is training at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States) and Dr. Ana Katherina Rodriguez-Go (a Developmental Pediatrician at the UP-PGH)
American Academy of Dermatology Sunscreen FAQS. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs (accessed 3/28/28)
American Academy of Pediatrics, 2018. Sun Safety and Protection tips from the American Acedemy of Pediatrics. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Sun-Safety-and-Protection.aspx (accessed 3/28/18)
Korioth, Trisha 2013. Sunscreen 101. What to look for in sun protection for Kids. American Academy of Pediatrics News and Journals Gateway. http://www.aappublications.org/content/34/5/31.5 (accessed 3/28/18)