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Guide to sun protection creams

Many brands of sun protection cream have special ranges for babies and toddlers. These offer high protection and are suitable for sensitive skins.
Some manufacturers also make after-sun products which soothe and moisturise the skin.
Understanding the labels
UV stands for ultraviolet, the sun’s potentially burning rays. There are three wavelengths:
UVA which tans but also harms deeper skin layers
UVB which burns
UVC which causes major skin damage, but at present is screened out by the earth’s protective ozone layer
Choose a cream which gives protection against UVA and UVB rays.
SPF stands for sun protection factor against the burning UVB rays. For example, SPF 15 provides up to 15 times the skin’s natural protection against these rays. Some products go up to SPF 50 – most experts advise that you choose a cream with a minimum SPF of 15 for a baby unless you are going somewhere with a tropical climate, in which case you should use a minimum of factor 25.
The amount of protection given by a cream depends on skin type and, more importantly, application. Sun protection cream needs to be applied liberally and frequently, and left on the skin’s surface rather than completely rubbed in
Star ratings indicate protection against UVA. The star system was developed by Boots and has now been adopted by many of the major sun screen product manufacturers. Four stars indicates optimum protection
Waterproof or water resistant means it’s less likely to wash off in water, but it’s advisable to reapply if your child has spent some time swimming or splashing. Do remember that your child can still burn even when he’s in the water
Fragrance-free means that it doesn’t contain perfumes
Hypo-allergenic and dermatologically tested means that it is specifically designed for sensitive skins – some brands may be suitable for babies suffering from dry skin or eczema
Buying tips 
  • Sun protection products come in lotions, milks, creams and mousses. It’s important to choose a make that is quick and easy to apply on to a wriggly baby or toddler, and that gives good, thick coverage. Remember that there should be a layer left on the surface of the skin.
  • Some makes of sun cream are now also available in roll-on applicators, which are quick and easy to use on children. Lipstick-style applicators are useful for lips, nose and ears.
  • Don’t hoard old bottles of suncream – they need to be replaced each year. The cream’s effectiveness is likely to start to reduce after about six months. This process will be speeded up if the bottle has been left in the heat of the sun, so try to keep it in the shade while you’re on the beach.
Related article: Sun Block Mistakes

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