When we go to the snow to ski, snowboard or just enjoy the scenery it is important to protect our skin from the sun with sunscream lotions. Especially, it is important to protect the skin of kids and babies with specific suncreams for them.
How does sunscreen work, and which sun protection factor should be used?
All sun creams have a number that indicates the sun protection factor (SPF). That number tells us how long we will be protected from the sun. But the popular belief that if the SPF is 20, we can be exposed to the sun for 20 minutes and if it is 50, 50 minutes, it just a myth.
The number indicated by the SPF must be multiplied by the minutes that your skin is able to be in the sun without burning. This depends on many factors. Not only our physical traits, such as skin type, skin pigmentation characteristics, eyes, hair, the ability to acquire a tan and the melanin that each person produces, but also external factors such as the time of the day, the time of the year or the place where we find ourselves because, as you know in the snow, for example, the sun’s rays are reflected, and we can get burn easily.
So, if your skin, for example, can be exposed 15 minutes in the sun without burning, you have to multiply 15 times the SPF number.
For infants and children 0 to 5 years, use a lotion with the highest protection (SPF 50+) and specific sunscreens for kids. Between 6 and 10 years the sun protection factor can be reduced, but it must always be high (SPF30) or very high (SPF 50+).
Why do children need a specific sunscreen lotion?
The skin of a child or a baby does not produce the same level of melanin, sweating or defences that an adult does. Exactly for that reason, they are more vulnerable to the sun’s rays and to the absorption of the chemical substances that some sun creams for children have and that as you can read below you need to have it into account when choosing the correct sunscream to avoid possible allergic reactions.
Each person has different and individual phototypes, which means that not everyone will be affected the same way in front of the sun. The phototypes establish the sensitivity of people to ultraviolet radiation and the formation of solar erythema (redness). For example, babies under 6 months should not be directly exposed to the sun, it does not matter if we are on winter or summer, or we are in the snow or on the beach. After 6 months, children have to enjoy the sun and benefit from the vitamin D it provides. From 6 months to 3 years, you must apply a specific sun protection factor for children.
Types of sunscreen lotion
It is important to read the labels of the products to know which ingredients contain the sun creams. There are two types of filters that protect us from sunburn, chemical or organic filters and physical or mineral filters.
On one hand, chemical or organic filters are substances that can be found on sun creams and that once applied to our skin, it will absorb photons from the sunlight, through photochemical reactions, and the photons are change in order to prevent our skin to get damaged. Some examples of chemical filters are Mexoryl, Octyl-metroxycinnamat or Tinorsob
On the other hand, we have the creams with physical or mineral filters. They are inorganic and are also more natural and recommended for children and babies because they are less aggressive to the skin and the chances of preventing an allergic reaction are reduced to almost nonexistence. Mineral filters are inert substances that applied to the skin reflect sunlight like a mirror and, unlike the previous ones, do not absorb radiation. They are way more effective sun creams in terms of protection because they protect us from the entire solar spectrum. As a negative point, they leave a whitish layer on the skin.
However, nowadays there are micronized pigments that make them less white. A small fraction of those pigments is absorbed by the skin, but since the amount is really insignificant, there is still no risk of allergy. In fact, the amount they contain is so small that they appear on the labels with the name of nano. Some examples of physical filters are zinc and iron oxide, titanium dioxide, mica, kaolin or talc.
Up to 3 years old, it would be ideal to use a high protection sunscreen (SPF 50+) with natural physical filters since babies’ skin has lower defences and is more likely to absorb any substance that is applied. After 3 years, it is recommended to use sun creams that mix physical and chemical filters. But always, you must to use sunscreens for kids.
Tips sunscreens lotion for kids
Firstly, before putting cream on the baby, try it on a small area of the skin in case any component could cause some irritation or allergic reaction.
Secondly, apply the cream 30 minutes before sun exposure and repeat the operation every two to three hours.
Finally, it is not convenient to use creams from last year since the product’s protective capacity is not guaranteed, entailing a greater risk for the skin.