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Take care to pick the sunscreen which best protects your family

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We all should know the summertime mantra slip, slap, slop when it comes to sun protection.

And while it’s a great idea to slather ourselves in sunscreen every day, particularly during the height of summer, there are some important factors to think about before you apply any lotion, especially to children.

Most sun damage occurs before the age of 18 and, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, just one bad sunburn more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma, a cancerous growth commonly caused by ultraviolet rays.

But before you purchase a sunscreen for your family take a closer look at the ingredients list and do the research on the best and most effective sunscreens on the market. There are certain chemicals that are found in most sunscreens that have questionable side effects.

Ingredients like oxybenzone, which are found in many sport sunscreens, penetrate the skin and get into the bloodstream acting like oestrogen and can also cause allergic reactions. Oxybenzone is also one of the four common sunscreen ingredients that have been found to cause coral bleaching. Unfortunately for the environment, any product that we put on our bodies and then get into the water are going to have some effect. Water resistant sunscreens help a little as the cream is less likely to rub off as easily.

Another major factor to consider is exactly how the product will protect your skin as some sunscreen label information can be misleading.

High SPFs (those over 50+) may protect skin from short but intense UVB rays, but may not protect enough from the longer UVA rays, which are the more damaging and possible contributor to skin cancer. A higher SPF on the label can also cause a false sense of security that the cream doesn’t have to be applied as often.

Look for sunscreens that list when they should be reapplied and stick with these recommendations, especially after swimming or sweating.

For little ones, the recommendation from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use mineral suncreams, these include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These natural ingredients sit on the skin rather than being absorbed into the skin. It means they tend to be a bit thicker and a little harder to rub in but are better for all around protection. This might also take a little more research, but it’s important to find mineral-based suncreams that do not use nanoparticles.

Again, it’s really important to read ingredients lists and do research on what’s in the products you are applying.

While they are certainly easier to apply to wriggly children that just won’t stay still, the EWG also recommends avoiding spray on and powder sunscreen. The product can be easily inhaled and it’s also easier to miss spots.

One of the best, and least confusing, ways to protect from the sun’s harmful rays is to plan outdoor activities before the hottest part of the day, which is usually between 10am and 2pm.

When outside, keep children covered up with hats and long sleeved tops and pants.

Look for sun guards, many of which have sun protective factor to add that extra layer of protection, and look for a shady spot to keep little bodies cool and safe.

For more information on safe and effective sunscreens, visit www.ewg.com.

Protect your children using mineral suncreams containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Slip, slap, slop to protect yourself against the sun: but make sure you pick the right sunscreen.

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Published July 04, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 04, 2013 at 12:08 pm)

Take care to pick the sunscreen which best protects your family

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