Hurray for summer and all it brings–cookouts, beach days, and swimming pools. Being in the sun is great for the soul, but don’t forget to throw a tube of sunscreen in that chic tote! For people of all ages, sun protection is an absolute must, and especially for the little ones whose skin is brand-new and thinner than adults. We know how confusing the range of sunscreens can be, so we turned to an expert in the field, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a renowned New York dermatologist, for some sage advice. Baby’s first summer? Read on for for the how-to’s on sun protection:
Dr. Zeichner advises that for infants in their first six months, sunscreen should be avoided completely because of their extremely sensitive skin. Instead, protection should come from be covered from the sun with long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats (oh, the cute possibilities!), and it’s best to keep the little ones inside between peak hours of 10 AM – 4 PM. Always look out for a fussy or over-heated baby!
Time to get your baby on the lifelong sunscreen habit! For babies over six months, Dr. Zeichner recommends applying sunscreen to exposed skin in addition to protective clothing. The best sunscreens are those that offer broad-spectrum protection, are water-resistant, and carry at least an SPF 30 label. Sunscreen should be re-applied every two hours when out in the sun. Make sure your sunscreen reads “broad-spectrum protection”: a simple SPF only protects against UVB rays, letting UVA rays continue to penetrate and hurt the skin.
In general sunscreens are divided into 2 broad categories: physical blockers (eg. zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) and chemical blockers (eg. avobenzone, octocrylene, ecamsule, etc). Chemical sunscreens absorb UV light while physical sunscreens contain minerals that literally block the rays from penetrating into the skin. Most baby sunscreens contain physical blockers to minimize the exposure of chemicals to the skin of babies and to reduce the risk of developing allergic reactions to their ingredients. Dr. Zeichner recommend sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for infants because they are usually less irritating.
Dr. Zeichner is a fan of California Baby Suncreen SPF 30 which fits all the criteria for an ideal sunscreen for babies. The product is fragrance free, so it reduces the risk of allergies or irritation. The active ingredient is Titanium Dioxide, without any chemical blockers in it. As you might expect from a California-friendly company, the sunscreen contains organic and sustainably grown ingredients. The formula actually uses non-whitening micro-titanium dioxide so your baby’s pretty skin will still be showing for those precious pictures!
For your toddler (and yourself!) who may be a little more active in the sun and need the added benefit of a combination of physical and chemical sunscreens, Noodle and Boo ‘Play-Day’ Suncreen SPF 30 works perfectly. The lightweight, non-oily hypoallergenic formula is water resistant and moisturizing at the same time, and protects those little bodies from harmful rays. The cream is fortified with aloe and calendula and smoothes on lightly and absorbs quickly so darlings soon forget they have anything on their skin at all. An added bonus? Noodle & Boo donates 20% of its profits to St. Jude, Save the Children, Keep a Child Alive and Compassion in an effort to give children opportunities to follow their dreams.
Another one of our favorites is Mustela’s new Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. I’ve loved Mustela products from my pregnancy days for stretch creams to body wash for my newborn. I can trust that they’ve put their care and love into formulating a sunscreen that’s safe and effective for precious baby skin. The lotion contains two physical blockers, and is specially formulated to minimize the risk of allergic reactions. I especially love the nifty little SPF 50 Suncreen Stick which is a no-mess solution to applying sunscreen to baby’s face, hands, and legs. I just throw it in the stroller for quick and easy access anytime. I can see it gliding on so I know that everything’s covered, but it absorbs quickly. Moms always have to be prepared with everything, right?