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Wondering if you can share sunscreen with your kid and carry one less bottle in your beach bag? According to Sonya Abdulla, a dermatologist at Dermatology on Bloor in Toronto, the difference between sunscreen for adults and kids comes down to potential skin irritants. Most drugstore formulas contain ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone, which work by absorbing UV rays and dissipating them as heat through a chemical reaction. While these ingredients are effective, they aren’t the best for those with reactive skin. And because babies and kids generally have more sensitivities, sun care products made with them in mind often avoid these potentially irritating ingredients.
“Children’s formulations tend to limit fragrance and are often mineral-based, with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide,” Abdulla explains. These sun barriers don’t penetrate the skin but rather sit on top and act like a mirror to reflect the sun’s rays. But not all kids’ sunscreens are mineral-based, so if your child reacts to their sunscreen, consider switching.
When it comes to babies, Health Canada suggests keeping them out of direct sunlight and not using sunscreen until after six months of age. “Physical protection, like clothing and shade, is the strategy of choice for babies,” says Abdulla. “But limited amounts of mineral sunscreen can be applied on exposed areas that may be more difficult to cover, like the face, hands and feet.”
The good news is that more and more sunscreen manufacturers are becoming savvy to the benefits of reducing chemicals, even in products marketed to adults. Many are now offering broad-spectrum mineral-based sunscreens, which start working the minute you put them on. If you use these products, you can feel comfortable sharing them with your kids. Whatever sunscreen you choose, Abdulla recommends a minimum of SPF 30 and suggests reapplying every two hours, or after swimming or heavy sweating.
Get head-to-toe protection against UVA and UVB rays with this new take on an old favourite. The cream literally “melts” into your skin for a non-greasy finish that leaves skin feeling soft. $30, laroche-posay.ca
The whole family can use this tube of broad spectrum sunblock that also contains skin moisturizers like coconut oil and avocado oil. $20, amazon.ca
This tube is one-and-done for the whole family for a day at the beach. Water resistant up to 80 minutes and gentle enough for the littlest littles. $35, well.ca
Made with natural and certified organic ingredients, including Canadian-grown organic raspberry, this easy-to-apply SPF 30 sunscreen stick keeps your little one’s skin safe and soft. $15, greenbeaver.com
Protect pouts big and small from UV damage and the drying effects of the sun with this nourishing balm. $15, well.ca
A blend of rich organic jojoba and soothing aloe nourishes your skin while this water-resistant formula shields from sun damage, whether you’re on the dock or swimming in the lake. $25, sephora.com
A non-nano zinc oxide formulation that comes in a non-aerosol, air-powered canister (without the potentially harmful propellant chemicals) makes this a safer spray you can use on the whole family. $46, Beautycounter.com
This mineral sunscreen will deflect damaging UV rays and nourish your complexion, thanks to the addition of sea buckthorn seed oil and shea butter. $30, cocoonapothecary.ca
Toss this travel-sized tube in your airplane carry-on for your summer vacation, or just in the side of your diaper bag for on-the-go touch-ups. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide deliver reliable, worry-free protection you can use on your face, neck and hands (and baby’s too!). $16, consonantskincare.com
Moms, you need this one just for you. It’s a tinted moisturizer and BB cream loaded with skin-nourishing ingredients and a mineral broad spectrum SPF 30, all in one. It stays put with a barely-there feel and will save you at least two skincare steps in the morning. And did we mention the delicate rose scent? $78, thedetoxmarket.ca