By Skin Cancer Expert & Dermatologist Dr. Daniel Kadouch
Summer is upon us. That means the kids are on holidays, family trips to the beach, swimming in pools, lakes and rivers — and generally more time outdoors enjoying the hot summer weather.
But when temperatures rise, so do the risks of skin damage from overexposure to the sun. And if you’ve got kids, it’s vital you know how to keep them protected.
If you’re worried you’re not doing enough. Or you’re unsure what to do. Then read on and you’ll learn the best way to be sun smart this summer. So you can keep yourself and your family protected from the hot summer sun.
Your sun smart questions answered by a skin cancer expert
My name is Dr. Daniel Kadouch — a board-certified dermatologist and skin cancer expert , founder of Tenue de Soleil, and father of three. And I can tell you from professional experience that avoiding sunburn — especially during childhood — significantly decreases the risk of skin cancer in later life.
Not only that, but being sun smart reduces the ageing effect caused by the sun meaning less wrinkles and healthier skin as you age. Keep reading to find out more about sunscreen and how to be sun smart.
How does sunscreen work?
Sunscreen consists of two main parts. The active ingredient — also known as the filter — contributes to the SPF (Sun Protection Factor). Important to know. The SPF is often misconceived as the strength of sunscreen protection.
However, it actually refers to how much longer it takes for UVB rays to redden the skin with sunscreen compared to without. Ideally, with SPF 50 it would take you 50 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing any sunscreen.
The second part, the emulsion — the lotion, milk, cream, oil, foam or gel — works as the carrier of the active ingredient. Compared to sun allergies, caused by direct UV exposure, most allergies to sunscreen are caused by fragrances, preservation ingredients and other goodies in the emulsion.
Two types of SPF filters — mineral & chemical
There are two types of SPF filters, mineral filters (UV reflectors) and chemical filters (UV absorbers). As with most personal-care products for your skin, it’s difficult to tell what’s what, so let me explain.
LOOK FOR Mineral filters
Mineral filters, also called ‘natural’ filters, are made up of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and work by physically blocking UVA and UVB rays by sitting on top of the skin. An advantage of mineral filters is that they work directly after applying on the skin. Plus the so-called non-nano zinc oxide and non-nano titanium dioxide are supposed to be most ocean friendly. A disadvantage is that some mineral based sunscreens can leave a white cast on the skin.
Chemical filters AREN’T GREAT
Chemical filters work by actually getting drawn up in your skin and absorbing UV radiation there. That’s why these sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure. Most chemical filters like
oxybenzone, octinoxate (octylmethoxycinnamate), homosalate, octisalate,
octocrylene, and avobenzone, are known to be endocrine disruptors. These ingredients can be harmful to our health even in small doses, as they interfere with everything from our hormonal reproductive systems to our metabolism. And as you will understand, they’re particularly bad for young ones whose systems are rapidly developing, On top of that chemical filters are also known to damage environment and especially ocean life.
So what’s the best sunscreen?
Well I recommend to check three important things when looking for sunscreen:
1. Always look for ‘broad spectrum’ (absorbing both UVB as well as UVA) with a SPF of 50
2. Find a sunscreen with a mineral based filter that lists (non-nano) zinc and/or titanium dioxide only. Be wary of the term “natural” or “mineral-based,” which often means zinc and/or titanium dioxide has been mixed with chemical sunscreens.
3. Make sure to also check other ingredients before buying your sunscreen to make sure that the emulsion part is not loaded with toxic ingredients. Red flags include anything ending in -paraben, pthalates, sodium laureth sulfate, and fragrance.
Does sunscreen expire?
Yes, sunscreen does expire. That’s why sunscreens include an expiration date — a date indicating when they’re no longer effective. Discard sunscreen that is past its expiration date.
After opening, sunscreens should be used for no longer than 12 months. And to make sure your sunscreen remains in good condition, avoid exposing it to excessive heat or direct sun. Discard sunscreen that has any obvious changes in color or consistency.
How much sunscreen to use and how often to reapply?
As dermatologists, we recommend applying sunscreen very generously. Use at least 30 grams or 1 ounce — enough to fill a shot glass — to cover the sun exposed skin areas.
For your face, you should generally think of a dessert spoon amount of sunscreen. Plus don’t forget to cover ears, eyelids and lips. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours and after every swim. And remember, babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of the sun as much as possible.
Does sunscreen prevent tanning?
Most people think they need to get a base tan to avoid getting a sunburn on vacation. But this is a mistake. A tan is in fact a sign of sun damage to the skin. In an effort to protect itself, the skin appears darker due to the redistribution of melanin — your natural skin pigmentation.
Sunscreen will prevent tanning to some degree. It may still be possible to get a slight tan, even if you do wear sunscreen. However, there’s no such thing as a ‘healthy’ tan.
Preventative care reduces skin damage risk caused by the sun
Just like you, the warm summer weather puts a smile on our face too. And we love celebrating the joy of summer together at any opportunity.
At Tenue de Soleil we strongly believe in forward thinking and forward doing. Plus we know that preventative care is crucial in reducing the risk of skin conditions and cancers caused by sun damage.
Reapplying sunscreen every two hours and after every swim is a full time job and a real hassle when kids are involved. To prevent sun damage to your childs’ skin, UV protective swimwear covering as much skin as possible offers the best, safest and less expensive solution possible. You’ll only need to apply sunscreen to the remaining sun exposed skin such as the face, hands and legs. That’s why I highly recommend it to all parents for their children.
Sun smart & sustainable UV protective swimwear
Our sun smart & sustainable UV protective swimwear has been expertly designed to offer the best coverage and comfort.
Premium quality sustainable UPF 50+ UV-protective fabric blocks 98% of UVA & UVB rays meaning your child stays fully protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Not only that but it comes with a lifetime quality guarantee.
No hassle, no waste and no more worrying about burnt shoulders. And as a bonus, you’ll reduce your sunscreen costs by almost 80%. In fact, you earn your Tenue de Soleil back within only 9 sunny days at the beach!
Let’s all say no to sunburns and get ready for an unforgettable sun smart summer. That way you and your children can enjoy the hot weather without worry.