By: Rachael Bilello, DO (MD Kid Care, Jericho, NY)
Hey guys, NY Dr. Mom here! Summer is right around the corner! As you make your plans for barbeques, beach days, and weekend trips, make sure to add SUNSCREEN to your shopping list! But before you go out and spend a mini fortune on creams, sprays, sticks, lotions, and gels, let’s talk sunscreen basics.
Who should use it:
-Everyone age 6 months and up!
Under 6 months:
>Avoid being out in the direct sun; shade is ideal!
>Wide brimmed hats and protective clothing should be worn.
>Apply a baby-friendly sunscreen to any exposed areas.
What else to do:
-Cover up! Wear hats, sunglasses, long sleeve swim shirts and sun protective clothing.
-Avoid staying outside in direct sunlight during the sun’s peak times (10am-4pm).
-Check expiration dates on last year’s sunscreens.
When to use it:
-Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going outside.
-Reapply after swimming, sweating or every 2 hours (whichever comes first!)
Where to apply it:
-Apply a generous amount to all sun-exposed areas.
-Don’t forget ears, noses, shoulders, tops of feet and behind the knees!
Why use it:
-Sunscreens can prevent sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. Those are enough reasons for me!
How to buy it:
-First and foremost, follow the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendations.
-Sunscreen should be:
1. Broad Spectrum- These protect against both harmful UVA and UVB rays
2. SPF 30 or higher- Though there is limited benefit to SPF greater than 50.
3. Water Resistant – This sunscreen will stay on wet or sweaty skin for 40 or 80 minutes before needing to reapply.
– All sunscreens are mineral or chemical based. Both are safe and effective.
–Mineral blocks are at the top of my list! These sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as their protective ingredient. (Yes, zinc oxide, the ingredient in diaper creams!) Sometimes these are still visible on the skin after rubbing them in. That’s ok! Mineral blocks are super safe and gentle to sensitive skin.
–Chemical blocks are another great option. These are your conventional lotions; smooth, easy to apply, and fully absorb into the skin. More importantly, they are proven safe, despite any rumors you may have heard. Oxybenzone got a bad rap when they fed huge quantities of it to rats. However, as humans applying it to our skin, it’s quite safe and effective.
-Broad spectrum refers to UVA and UVB rays.
>UVA– rays penetrate the skin deeply, primarily causing skin to tan and wrinkle prematurely; it also leads to the development of skin cancer.
>UVB– rays are those that are responsible for sunburn to the superficial layer of skin and the main culprit in developing skin cancer.
-For faces: I love sunscreen sticks! They’re easy to apply and are less likely to get into eyes.
-Typically sprays aren’t recommended because they tend to apply unevenly.
So, I usually pick up a few sticks for delicate faces and a few lotions for the rest of the body. My favorite sticks are Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby and Aveeno Baby Natural Protection. Aveeno Baby, Coppertone Kids Tear Free Zinc or Water Babies, and Cerave Baby are some of my favorite lotions. Whatever you buy, make sure you remember to use it!