Kim Walls, M.S.
Many parents know that most sun damage occurs before the age of 18 and that preventing sunburn is essential for preventing ultra-violet induced skin damage which can range from unsightly hyperpigmentation to deadly melanoma. However, many people are not aware that too much protection from the sun poses serious health risks in the form of Vitamin D deficiencies that can lead to increased risk of cancer, reduced immunity, poor bone formation, and more.
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What Does SPF (Sun Protection Factor) Mean?
The SPF factor refers to how much longer it will take the skin to burn with a given SPF product than it would take to burn with no protection at all.
For example, Say your baby's skin is very fair and would burn after 10 minutes in the sun.
Now you use an SPF 15 product
Multliply 10 minutes by SPF 15: 10 x 15 = 150 minutes
Therefore using SPF 15 will increase the amount of time before your baby starts to burn from 10 minutes to 150 minutes or about 2 and half hours.
Remember that sunscreen wears off with sweat, water, drool, and when the skin comes in contact with clothing, food, sand, dirt and so on. If the sunscreen should provide 3 or more hours of protection, to be safe reapply the product at least every 2 hours. Also the same sunscreen on you will not last as long on your baby. Their skin is much more sensitive.
How much sun protection do children really need?
Mineral sunscreens (with the active ingredients of zinc and/or titanium) usually top out at 35. Higher SPFs usually include a chemical sunscreen ingredient.
The best SPF value depends on what you will be doing and the season. A Zinc or Titanium-based sunscreen with SPF35 is just right for playing at the beach, park, or in the back yard and is for newborn skin. Doctors recommend minimal sun exposure until at least 6 months.
Remember that a great deal of UV exposure comes from reflected light off the ground and other objects, so a hat or canopy is not quite enough protection. Lip protection is also important to apply, and reapply often, as it is quickly wiped or licked off. Keep in mind that dry or damaged skin, as you might see with eczema, should be regularly protected, even during the winter, with an SPF of 6 or more.
Creating a Healthy Sunscreen Balance -- Vitamin D and Skin Color
There is a lot of public awareness about using sunscreen, but much less is said about how sunscreen can prevent Vitamin D production and lead to serious health problems. Understanding this relationship between skin color and vitamin D production can help you make informed decisions about your family's skincare and eating routines to actively maintain health.
Teaching Kids to Care About and Even Embrace Safe Sunscreen Practices
Make sunscreen a fun, actively healthy ritual, not a rushed afterthought.
- Don't rush them through the application process
- Start with one body part and let them choose it
- Make sure they see you apply your own sunscreen.
- If your kids continue to object to sunscreen, give them the choice not to use it
- The choice is they must stay in the shade.
- Talk about sunburn as health risks
article edited for format and space
from Kim Walls, M.S.
As the mother of two young boys, she has coupled her innate understanding of the importance of sustainability with her post-graduate work in biochemical and nutritional sciences to establish a new standard in skin care research and products that supports lasting health for today's families.
CEO of Episencial and Creator of the Epicuren Baby and Episencial Skin Care products and philosophy
for further information on:
Vitamin D and Skin Color, UVA vs UVB, Mineral vs Chemical ingredients, Foods that Fight Sun Damage and more...
EWG: Find the Best Sunscreen for you