Using sunscreen is of utmost importance for you and your child to maintain healthy skin and protect against the sun’s harmful effects. Choosing the correct type of sunscreen for you or your child can often be confusing. In this article, you will read all about sunscreens and their importance.
Sunscreen is the primary product to protect the skin from harmful sun rays. It consists of organic and inorganic chemicals that help diffuse and filter sunlight to a degree that reduces its penetration to the inner layers of the skin while minimizing the damage that might be caused by the sun.
The main ingredients of sunscreen include:
These are active ingredients that protect the skin from the sun. Sun filters fall into two main types: chemical sun filters and mineral sun filters.
Some sunscreens contain oils and natural components that contribute to skin hydration and improve the product's texture.
Some sunscreens have antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.
These are used to enhance product quality and maintain formula stability.
Some sunscreens may contain fragrant substances or extra ingredients to enhance their scent.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor or protection from sunburn. There are different levels of SPF in sunscreens, indicating the degree of protection the product offers. When purchasing sunscreen, it's essential to note the number on the packaging. Generally, a higher number is preferred since it typically offers more excellent resistance to the sun's rays. The SPF number measures how much UV radiation is required to cause sunburn on skin protected with sunscreen compared to skin without protection. As the SPF level in sunscreen increases, so does the protection from sunburns. Choosing a sunscreen that suits your skin type and needs is vital, and using it consistently and thoroughly for adequate sun protection.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are among the leading causes of skin damage. They affect every layer of the skin, from the outermost to the innermost layers. Here are some of the significant damages UV rays can cause to the skin:
UV rays boost melanin production in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its color, leading to the appearance of pigmentation and dark spots.
UV rays can cause sunburn, which damages the skin and can result in sensitivity and inflammation.
This leads to dull-looking skin that loses its natural glow.
Signs of aging appear, owing to the impact on collagen production. Collagen is a protein that provides skin with elasticity and radiance.
Frequent and unprotected exposure to UV rays significantly raises the risk of skin cancer.
Children's skin is sensitive and different from other skin types. It is more susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun, such as burns, which can be very painful for children and may cause long-term skin damage. Excessive exposure to UV rays in children can result in high skin sensitivity and dangerous effects that might require hospitalization.
Doctors and experts recommend using sunscreen for children. However, when selecting one, they advise the following:
You might wonder when to start applying sunscreen to your child. Here are some general guidelines based on age:
Most dermatologists advise against exposing infants of this age to the sun and using sunscreens. We recommend protecting your child outdoors by keeping them away from direct sunlight and in the shade, dressing them in long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. It's better if their clothes are light-colored or white, as these colors allow more UV rays to reach the skin, thus stimulating Vitamin D.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, broad-spectrum, water-resistant, physical, and chemical UV filters become safe and effective for children six months of age. However, it's still advised to keep them in the shade as much as possible and cover their skin with clothing.
Here are some tips, in addition to using sunscreen, to help protect your child from harmful sun rays:
Most sunscreens protect the skin from harmful UVB and UVA rays. This prevents sunburn, safeguards the skin against damage like skin cancer and premature aging signs, and helps maintain the skin's freshness. However, UVB rays stimulate Vitamin D production in the skin. Excessive use of sunscreen and avoiding prolonged direct sun exposure can reduce this Vitamin D activation in the skin.
Nevertheless, sunscreen doesn't entirely block Vitamin D absorption, essential for overall health. Vitamin D can be obtained from multiple sources, including sunlight, a healthy diet, and dietary supplements.
Always use sunscreen for yourself and your child. Adopt healthy dietary habits as a safe alternative to obtain Vitamin D, especially during seasons where you might avoid sun exposure, like summer, or when wearing long, thick clothes during winter.