Your guide to sunscreens

Boy with hat and sunscreen.jpg

Since kids are more vulnerable to damage caused by the sun and to harmful effects of chemical exposure, be sure to choose a sunscreen for your child that is rated highly for effectiveness against both UVA and UVB radiation as well as safety.

The US-based Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates sunscreens (amongst other things) based on safety and how well they protect against UV rays.  Unfortunately their info is geared towards the US market and Australia has different regulations (SPF limits etc.).   However, if you would like to further your understanding around issues with sunscreens, have a read of their article on 9 Surprising Facts About Sunscreen.

If you are after a quick guide on the best sunscreen for your kids this summer, then read on.  

Last year in December I wrote a blog article on healthy choice sunscreens which goes into a bit more detail than this article.   This article give you some reminders for how to best protect your child's skin this summer and to provide you with my updated list of healthy choice sunscreen’s for 2013.

Kids Health Naturally ‘healthy’ choice sunscreen brands

I choose the following sunscreens for my kids and myself for broad spectrum protection with fewer hazardous ingredients.

Wotnot 30+ SPF Sunscreen

 Soleo Organics

Grahams SunClear SPF 30+ Natural Sunscreen

Little Innoscents sun lotion SPF 30


things you need to remember for protecting your child’s skin this summer 

  1. Put sunscreen on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards.  Don't believe claims that a product will remain effective for a certain period of time, since these claims are not always reliable.

  2. Look for a sunscreen that says it is water resistant if your child is spending long periods of time in the water. Long sleeve rash vests are a great idea also as you are then minimising the amount of sunscreen that you need to use.

  3. Apply sunscreen liberally – at least a teaspoon for each limb, front and back of the body and half a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears. Most people don't apply enough sunscreen resulting in only 50-80% of the protection stated on the product.

  4. Be extra cautious in the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense.  The SunSmart UV Alert is reported daily by the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia. The alert identifies times during the day when the UV level is 3 or above and sun protection is needed.  As well as appearing on the Bureau of Meteorology website, the alert is published in the weather section of daily newspapers, on Cancer Council Australia has an app for smartphones. 

  5. For safe sun exposure and Vitamin D intake, enjoy the sun before 10am and after 5pm for short periods of time before covering up. The face should always be protected because this surface area is not large enough to generate Vitamin D. Exposing legs and arms is best for short periods before covering up.

Sun protection and babies.  

Evidence suggests that childhood suns exposure contributes significantly to your lifetime risk of skin cancer. Cancer Council Australia recommends keeping babies out of the sun as much as possible for the first 12 months as fair-skinned babies would not yet have protective melanin proteins.   I recommend that you avoid using sunscreens on children younger than 6 months unless protective shade and clothing are not available.  

Remember to enjoy the sun, it is vital for health and happiness.  Just try and be prepared before you head out.