Selecting the right sunscreen for your family January 2, 2017

Summer is here and along with all the swimming you will be doing comes the sun and its UV rays in full force. When you and your kids start your summer activities and start soaking up the sun, its important to make sure to stay protected through the right sunscreen.

But with so many different products, brands and forms of sunscreen it can be a bit daunting to choose the right one for you and your children. There’s a flurry of questions like what does SPF mean? How much SPF is enough? And which ones should I use for swimming?

To start off, SPF stands for ‘Sunburn protection factor’ and is the measurement of protection against ultraviolet radiation B or UVB that causes burning. While it is most important to protect against UVB, its good to find a sunscreen that protects against UVA as well since UVA causes aging of the skin.

As for how much SPF you want, what you need to know is that SPF 30 blocks 97-percent of incoming rays while 50 SPF blocks 99-percent. For your baby you probably want to choose the sunscreens with SPFs as high as 50 because babies have extra sensitive skin. Anything higher than these SPF numbers however, may be unnecessary. According to some organizations such as the Skin Cancer Foundation SPF’s higher than 50 do not add much more protection. SPFs from 30 to 50 are sufficient and should be reapplied every hour and a half.

It’s also relevant to know that the effects of the sun and the effects of sunblock vary from person to person. Each person’s skin has a different level of sensitivity. Some are more prone to burning so it’s important to take this into consideration when choosing the right sunscreen. Skin can also be sensitive not only to the sun but to the sunscreens themselves. Some people are allergic to certain ingredients in them such as PABA. So if your children have sensitive skin and allergies it would be good to look for those that are hypoallergenic.

For swimming lessons the best sunscreens to choose are those that are water-resistant or waterproof because these are the ones that last longest in the water. Water-resistant sunscreens last for around 40 minutes in the pool while waterproof products last twice as long. If that’s not enough some bathing suits actually have sun protection themselves. These are the ones labeled UPF 50. So before you take yourself, your kids and your baby swimming under the sun, make sure you’ve got your sunscreen needs all covered.