Out of nowhere this past weekend was a little slice of summertime and the sunshine was out in full force. It made me think of that old Coppertone advertising campaign with the 3-year old girl in pig-tails with her puppy pulling down her bikini and, much to her surprise, revealing a beautiful bronze tan. That image makes me gasp and we all certainly know better now! Studies reveal that 80% of sun exposure occurs before the age of 18 (oh crap!) and that just one bad blistering during childhood can double the risk of cancer later in life (double crap!). Thankfully, there are now some advanced sunblocks out there that provide stronger, gentler blocks for children’s sensitive skin. After a recent visit to my own dermatologist I’ve learned a few things about children’s sun protection. Here’s a summary:
1. Try to find and use non-toxic, non-chemical, physical blocks. These use mineral blocks such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to block the sun as opposed to chemicals. Because they prevent UV rays from ever reaching the skin, these physical UV blockers offer the most effective protection. I like the Dr Hauschka line of sunscreens for both me and my kids. California Baby and Avalon Organics both have a good product too.
2. Look for both UVB and UVA broad-spectrum protection. It’s actually the UVB rays on a cloudy day that do the most damage to your skin and cause those pesky wrinkles.
3. PABA-free and fragrance-free are great for those kids with sensitive skin
4. Use a minimum of 30 SPF and apply liberally and often, especially after swimming (no duh, right?).
Oh, and don’t forget to protect your peepers from the sun too! I couldn’t resist picking up these over-sized shades from local boutique Honeys and Heros for my daughter Gigi and her girlfriend Taylor. They were both so excited to have shades “just like mommy” it was too cute. As long as they aren’t carrying around tiny dogs and saying things like “You’re Hot!” I think we’ll be okay!