Why do you and your child need sunscreen?

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.

Published on:Oct 11th 2023 |Updated on:May 10th 2024
فوائد واقي الشمس

What is sunscreen made of?

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:

Sun filters

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.

  1. Chemical sun filters: They absorb ultraviolet rays and convert them into heat. Examples of chemical sun filter ingredients include Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, and Octocrylene.
  2. Mineral sun filters: These contain minerals such as zinc or titanium and work by scattering ultraviolet rays.

Natural oils and ingredients

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.

Stabilizing agents and color fixatives

These are used to enhance product quality and maintain formula stability.

Fragrances and additional ingredients

Some sunscreens may contain fragrant substances or extra ingredients to enhance their scent.

What does SPF mean?

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.

Why do we need sunscreen?

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:

Increased Melanin Production

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.

Cell Damage

This leads to dull-looking skin that loses its natural glow.

Accelerated Aging

Signs of aging appear, owing to the impact on collagen production. Collagen is a protein that provides skin with elasticity and radiance.

Increased Risk of Skin Cancer

Frequent and unprotected exposure to UV rays significantly raises the risk of skin cancer.

How does sun exposure affect your child's skin?

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.

How to choose sunscreen for yourself and your child

Doctors and experts recommend using sunscreen for children. However, when selecting one, they advise the following:

  • Ensure it's free from UV filters, as there are suspicions about their effects on hormones.
  • Ensure it doesn't contain fragrances to prevent harm to children with allergies.
  • Choose a sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 50.
  • Experts also advise avoiding prolonged direct sun exposure to prevent sunburns and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

At what age can we start using sunscreen on children?

You might wonder when to start applying sunscreen to your child. Here are some general guidelines based on age:

For infants under six months

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.

For babies over six months

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.

Tips for protecting children's skin from sun damage

Here are some tips, in addition to using sunscreen, to help protect your child from harmful sun rays:

  • Keep the child away from direct sunlight.
  • Dress the child in long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
  • Ensure the child drinks plenty of fluids.
  • Prevent the child from getting overheated.
  • Bring the child indoors if they cry excessively or show redness on exposed skin areas.
  • If you're unsure about the type of sunscreen to use on your child, consult a dermatologist or pediatrician.

Does using sunscreen prevent obtaining Vitamin D?

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.

Tips to ensure you get adequate levels of Vitamin D

  • Consume food rich in Vitamin D: You can obtain Vitamin D from fatty fish (like salmon and tuna), fish liver oil, milk fortified with Vitamin D, and eggs.
  • Take dietary supplements: After necessary tests and consultation with a doctor, you can consume Vitamin D supplements based on their recommendations.
  • Regular sun exposure: You can benefit from the sun by regularly exposing your skin to it for short periods on sunny days, without sunscreen, to activate Vitamin D production. Do this at appropriate times during the day.

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.



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Omooma is the first Online platform offering classes in Arabic dedicated to mothers and mothers-to-be. In addition to content covering many relevant topics, women’s health, pregnancy, fertility, child’s health, and parenting. Omooma’s articles are written by medical writers, based on extensive research, and reviewed by a panel of experts who are part of the largest team of experts available in the region in all fields related to the journey of motherhood.

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