When the sun finally arrives in the UK and Ireland many families flock outside from country to coast to get their yearly dose of vitamin D. Because the sun is such an infrequent visitor to our shores it’s difficult to remember the best ways to stay safe in the sun, whether this is at home or on holidays. Don’t forget even if it is a little cloudy you can still get sunburn and UV damage!
Many parents are unsure when it comes to suncreams and the abbreviations SPF, UVA and UVB can be a little confusing. BubbleBum to the rescue! We love the summer and summer travel is a must for most families, so don’t forget to stock up on sun cream and even better, learn a bit about why it is so important.
Sunburn and UV damage can be avoided easily, the main protection from harmful UV rays comes from sun cream. There are so many different suncreams on the market with differing levels of protection it can be really difficult to know which one is right for your family,
Sun cream ranges from factor 2 to 50+. This number refers to the sun protection factor, or SPF as it is commonly called; the higher the number the higher level of Ultraviolet B radiation protection (UVB) it offers. Specifically the SPF measures the amount of UVB protection a cream offers.
Another phrase parents will hear is ‘UVA protection’ and many believe that the higher the SPF the better the UVA protection, but this is a mistake made by many, including myself! The UVA protection is highlighted by a star rating – UVA stands for Ultraviolet A radiation- ranging from 1 star to 5 stars; the more stars the better the protection. The stars will be inside a circle which is a European approval marking.
When buying suncream for the family you should look at the factor (SPF) as well as the number of stars it has. It can get very confusing indeed but if you stick with these two rules you should choose a sun cream perfect for you and your littles. A UVA rating of three stars or higher is considered good!
Children have more sensitive skin than adults and as a rule everyone should always use at least a factor 15 suncream when out in the sun. Child specific sun cream usually has a higher factor of 30 or 50+. You should also use a sun cream suited to skin type with fair and pale skin requiring a high factor sun cream. If you have freckles, moles, skin problems, history of cancers in the family or red hair you should also use a higher factor suncream. Special attention should also be given to your child’s neck, shoulders, ears, and nose as these are often fully exposed to sunshine.
You should apply sun cream liberally as thin coverage will reduce the amount of protection. As a rule you should use two teaspoons on your face, neck and arms and two tablespoons on the entire body if wearing a swimming costume.
If you or your children are going to be in the sun for extended periods, it’s best to apply sun cream 30 mins before you go outside, and then again immediately before. You should also re-apply throughout the day; topping-up your sun cream will reduce the chance of damaging rays reaching your skin. Water resistant cream is good for swimming as the water reflects the UV rays, but cream should be reapplied when out the water as it washes away the cream, as does sweating and towel drying. Everyone in the family including children should protect their eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses.
Kids under 6 months old should not be in direct sunlight. Other helpful tips to keep kids safe in the sun are:
- Let them play in the shade, the sun is strongest between 11am – 3pm, so it is best for children to stay out of direct sunlight during these peak times.
- Cover all exposed skin with sun cream, paying special attention to neck, shoulders, ears, knees and feet.
- Cover your child with loose cotton clothes to protect from the UV rays (long sleeve tops are also great for protecting the arms)
- Your child should wear a floppy hat with a brim to protect the scalp, shield the eyes, ears and neck.
- If swimming be sure to re-apply suncream and wear a long sleeve swimsuit while in the water.
- Make sure to reapply suncream liberally throughout the day.
Check out the NHS guidelines on suncream for further information. Here are BubbleBum’s favourite sun creams for all the family!
Which is your is your favourite?