Q&A on Sun Protection for Children

Sun protection is essential for skin health, especially in children, whose skin is more delicate and sensitive to the harmful effects of the sun. Here are some frequently asked questions about sun protection for children, along with detailed answers to help you make the best choices for protecting your little ones.

What does SPF mean?

SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor” in French. It indicates the level of protection that a sunscreen offers against UVB rays, which cause sunburn.
  • What does this SPF index mean? Simply put, SPF indicates how long a person can stay in the sun without burning compared to if they weren't wearing protection. However, it is important to note that SPF does not measure protection against UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin. Also, it is important to remember that certain factors can weaken the effectiveness of sunscreen, such as improper application, insufficient amount of sunscreen, sweating, swimming, and friction with towel or clothing.
  • How is SPF measured? The SPF sun protection factor is primarily a measure of UVB absorption, made in the laboratory by applying sunscreen to human skin and then exposing that skin to an artificial UV light source. It measures the UV protection a product provides when applied generously and evenly to the skin (2 mg/cm²). An SPF of 15 corresponds to 93% UVB absorption, while an SPF of 30 corresponds to 97% and an SPF of 50 corresponds to 98% UVB absorption.
    However, looking at it another way: SPF 30 lets in about 3% (1/30) of UVB rays and SPF 50 only lets in about 2% (1/50) of UVB rays. This means that 50% more UVB rays can penetrate your skin if you use SPF 30 compared to SPF 50.
  • How long are you protected with SPF50? Historically, it was assumed that the calculation was based on a simple measurement of duration. The amount of UV needed to cause slight redness on protected skin is compared to that needed to cause the same redness on unprotected skin. For example, if a person starts burning after 10 minutes without protection, with SPF 50 sunscreen it would take 500 minutes (50 times longer). But it's not that obvious, a lot of factors come into play. SPF ratings aren't just about how long the skin is exposed to UV light; they take into account both the time and the amount of combined exposure, that is, the intensity of UVB depending on your activity. Other factors, such as cloud cover, latitude, season, and proximity to reflective surfaces like water, sand, and snow, should also be considered.

  • For a child, what SPF is recommended? For children, it is recommended to use sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of 50 . This provides very high protection and helps prevent sunburn, while also protecting against long-term damage caused by UV rays. Remember to reapply sunscreen regularly.

What is the difference between UVA and UVB?

UVA and UVB rays are two types of ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun, but they have different effects on the skin.
  • UVA: These rays penetrate deep into the skin and are mainly responsible for premature skin aging and wrinkles. They can also contribute to the development of skin cancer. To remember, think "A" for "Aging".
  • UVB: These rays mainly affect the surface layer of the skin and are the main cause of sunburn. UVB also plays a crucial role in the development of skin cancer. “B” for “Burning”.

What is the difference between solar filter and mineral filter?

Chemical filters and mineral filters are two types of sunscreen that work differently to protect the skin from UV rays.
  • Organic (chemical) filters: These ingredients absorb UV rays and convert them into heat, which is then released through the skin. There are several types of chemical filters that are more or less harmful to the environment and health. They are often lightweight and invisible once applied, but can sometimes cause allergic reactions in sensitive skin.
  • Mineral (physical) filters: These ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, form a barrier on the skin that reflects UV rays. Mineral sunscreens are often recommended for babies, children, pregnant women and people with sensitive skin because they are less likely to cause irritation.

How much sunscreen is recommended?

To ensure optimal protection, it is crucial to apply a sufficient amount of sunscreen. In theory, 2 mg/cm² of skin is recommended. Here are practical recommendations for applying the right amount:
  • For an adult: Apply sunscreen along your finger before spreading it over different areas of the body:
    • 2.5 fingers on face and neck
    • 7 fingers on the chest and back
    • 3 fingers on each arm
    • 1 finger on each hand
    • 6 fingers on each leg
    • 2 toes on each foot
  • For a child: Apply sunscreen in the same way:
    • 1.5 fingers on face and neck
    • 5 fingers on the chest and back
    • 2 fingers on each arm and hand
    • 3 fingers on each leg and foot

It is also important to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if the child swims or sweats a lot.

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Other tips for effective sun protection

  • Choose the right time: Avoid exposing children to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
  • Use protective clothing: In addition to sunscreen, dress children in covering clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Favor shade: Encourage children to play in the shade as much as possible, especially during peak solar radiation hours.

Protecting children from the sun is a crucial step in preventing long-term skin damage and promoting healthy skin. By following these recommendations and staying informed, you can ensure your children enjoy the sun safely. Use a high protection sunscreen, SPF 50 with broad UVA and UVB spectrum, apply a sufficient quantity to all exposed parts of the body and reapply regularly. For the little ones, avoid direct exposure to the sun and always protect them. Organic children's sunscreen is ideal for all your family adventures, it will allow you to protect your children safely, gently and without fear.

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