As the weather heats up and calendars are filled with summer camps, beach trips and other outdoor activities, ’tis the season for slathering our squirming kids with sunscreen multiple times a day. And while some parents have enough to worry about just getting the lotion on their highly resistant children in the first place, others are more concerned with the type of sunscreen their kiddies wear—chemical or mineral.
Both options protect your kid’s skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays, but do so in different ways. Chemical sunscreens absorb the rays, which has caused some concern after an FDA study revealed that four of these chemicals may be seeping into our bloodstreams. While more research needs to be done, the findings have led some consumers to avoid sunscreens containing avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule and to choose mineral sunscreens instead.
Summer sun protection: a guide for kids and babiesThe two key ingredients in mineral sunscreens (sometimes also referred to as physical sunscreens) are titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, and they’re naturally-occurring chemicals. Rather than being absorbed, these formulas sit on top of the skin and offer a protective barrier by scattering and reflecting UV rays. Many parents have also reported another bonus: mineral sunscreens are less irritating to sensitive skin.
With any sunscreen, mineral or not, it’s important to buy at least an SPF 30 one, and to make sure that it offers “broad spectrum” coverage against both types of rays (UVA and UVB). Remember to apply at least 30 minutes before venturing outside and keep topping it up after sweating and swimming, or every two hours.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to tote around an arsenal of different tubes and formulations, labelled differently for babies, kids and adults. Jennifer Beecker, a dermatologist and research director in the Division of Dermatology at The Ottawa Hospital, says that “pretty much everyone can use everything.”
Here are some of your best bets for mineral sunscreens.