Before we go any further: the best sunscreen for kids is the one you can actually get them to stay still for you to put on them! But assuming you have a cooperative little one, what sunscreen should you choose? An ideal sunscreen for kids should protect against both UVA and UVB rays, be gentle and non-irritating, stays on the skin, and be easy to apply.
Both chemical and physical sunblocks (and a combination of the two) are available on the market. There’s a lot of controversy about chemical sunscreens and the possible association of cancer, particularly with oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Although there is no conclusive evidence of this, I personally recommend using a chemical-free sunscreen on kids, for a few reasons. First, as a mom, I think the less chemicals kids are exposed to, the better. Second, many chemicals (like PABA) are irritating and cause rashes – especially for kids with sensitive skin or eczema, which many have. And finally, chemical sunscreens need to be applied 30 minutes before going outside because they have to be absorbed by the skin to work, whereas physical blockers sit on top of the skin and start working immediately. With any sunscreen, make sure you reapply frequently, especially when swimming or sweating.
So which do I recommend? One brand I love is the Skinceuticals physical UV defense. My other current favorite is the MD Solar Science line. They carry a physical gel sunblock, and a physical cream sunblock – with and without tint. They also carry a spray and stick sunscreen (which are great as well – especially for men who hate putting creams on), but these are not chemical-free. Their products are recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation. The website ishttp://mdsolarsciences.com/ And in case you’re wondering, I do not work for the company and they are not paying me to write this!
Other things to keep in mind: sunscreen is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age. And even with older kids, the best defense against sunburn is limiting sun exposure during peak hours. Remember to put hats and sun protective clothing on your kids. One brand I love is Coolibar, but there are lots of great ones out there. Have a fun summer, but be sun safe!
Donna Bilu Martin, MD is a board certified Dermatologist at South Beach Dermatology and Horwitz Dermatology.
This post is not intended to be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment in any shape or form. Accordingly, any information contained within should not be construed as medical advice, evaluation, or consultation and should never be considered a replacement for a formal evaluation by a physician in the office. Therefore, the information and correspondence that is involved with this weblog does not constitute a formal doctor-patient relationship. Explanation of off-label services and/or products that are mentioned herein does not reflect an endorsement nor promotion and should not be construed as such.