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Neutrogena  Waterguard Kids Sunblock Clear Spray SPF 70+
Neutrogena Waterguard Kids Sunblock Clear Spray SPF 70+

How To Buy Sunscreen For Kids and Babies

By Yana SimoneSHOP.COM Contributor

Everybody loves to be out in the sun. It is the best way to feed our skin with Vitamin D, which provides calcium and is vital to our bones. Let's face the facts: kids LOVE to be outside - especially in the warm summer months. And as most mothers know, it's virtually impossible to tell them to come inside because they're getting too much& gasp! SUN? That's where sunscreen comes in. A good sunscreen is essential to protecting your child and baby from the harmful effects of the sun's UVA and UVB rays. And because babies and kids have much more delicate skin than adults, not only is it important to prevent harmful UV exposure- it's also important to take care of their skin with the right products that won't irritate or cause damage far worse than sun exposure. Read on and get "enlightened" about everything under the sun when it comes to sunscreens for kids and babies.

The Basics

Step 1SPF: Or Sun Protection Factor is basically the amount of time your little one can stay in the sun without burning. So the higher SPF you choose, the longer she or he can be outside. Every factor of 15 equals two hours in the sun. Choose higher SPFs for kids and babies no less than SPF 30. You could go for a higher SPF, but most experts believe that they don't provide that much extra protection. Some experts go as far as to say the SPF rating should be capped at 30. Make sure whatever product you choose, it offers "full spectrum" UVA and UVB protection.
Step 2Formula: Whether you choose lotion, spray, towelette or even stick  there is something for every mom and every kid. Sprays are usually better for active kids who want a quick, no mess application. Lotions are better for babies and younger children so you can ensure not one inch of delicate skin is left uncovered, sticks are great for spot applications. Make sure the formula is non-stinging and if possible, water-resistant. The gentler formula the better  there are even formulas out there specifically for sensitive skin.
Step 3Ingredients: Because babies and kids have skin that is much gentler than the skin of adults, it needs even more care and protection. Look for sunscreens that are PABA free or even chemical-free altogether. There are many natural sun screens that have active ingredients like titanium oxide and zinc oxide. Remember, if the sunscreen you choose is loaded with chemicals, those chemicals will eventually end up in your baby's bloodstream.

The Lingo

UVA Rays: Ultraviolet-A rays are less likely to cause burning than UVB rays but are considered more harmful long-term. They are responsible for wrinkling, leathering and other aspects of sun damage.
UVB Rays: Ultraviolet-B rays are directly responsible for sun burning and skin cancer. These are the most dangerous rays to kids, babies and adults alike.
Full Spectrum Protection: Contains sunscreens that provide protection from UVA AND UVB rays.
PABA : 4-Aminobenzoic acid is a chemical form of sunscreen. Can be harmful to small children and babies. Avobenzone: Also known as Parsol 1789, it protects against both UVA and UVB rays but is a chemical sunscreen. Waterproof: Indicates that the product provides protection for at least 80 minutes even when swimming or sweating.
Water-resistant: Different from waterproof, this means that the product provides protection for only 40 minutes while swimming or sweating.
Zinc oxide, talc or titanium dioxide: These ingredients are non-chemical, physical sunblocks. They provide good coverage, are waterproof and, most important, cause fewer allergic reactions than chemical sunscreens.

The Experts

Babycenter's Patricia Treadwell, pediatric dermatologist, says "I recommend choosing a "physical" or "chemical-free" sunscreen made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide-look for one of those ingredients on the label. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which may cause irritation or allergic reactions because the skin absorbs the active ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on top of the skin, forming a barrier against the sun's rays."
KeepKidsHealthy.com "There are many sunscreens available for safe use in children over six months old. Pick one that offers UVA and UVB protection and that has a SPF of 15 or higher (especially if your child has light skin). Apply the sunscreen in a thick coat at least 30-45 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours (or more often in he is swimming or perspiring heavily)."

The Brands

Banana Boat is the first and only widely available brand to offer a tear-free continuous spray so gentle, it won't irritate you child's eyes or skin. Plus, the white lotion lets mom see where she's applied for no missed spots! Find sunscreen in all formats - lotions, sprays and sticks up to SPF 50.
Bull Frog has an array of sunscreens for kids. One of their most popular products is the Quick Drying Gel SPF36. It's especially popular with moms of little kids. It's a clear gel that dries instantly and protects like magic. There's no white, chalky mess, and because it dries instantly, it's easy to reapply fast, and the kids can jump right back into the pool or run back to the playground.
Coppertone Kids is one of the most popular brands for kids and babies. They have a full line of full-spectrum sun protection with SPF factors up to 70+. They're all water-proof, hypoallergenic and photostable.
California Baby suncare products are all non-chemical and tear-free. Unlike chemical sun filtering agents, their sunscreen lotions and sticks sit on top of the skin scattering and reflecting dangerous UV rays instead of being absorbed into skin like other sunscreens.
Neutrogena Your baby's skin is worth protecting, but most baby sunscreen products only block UVA rays, letting UVB rays pass through and irritate or burn baby's sensitive skin. Neutrogena has developed a new brand of baby sunscreen which makes protecting baby's delicate skin easier than ever.

The Price

$: Coppertone Kids Sunblock Lotion, SPF 50 - 8 Oz Coppertone Kids SPF 50 Sunblock Lotion provides protection from UVA rays that may contribute to skin damage and premature aging of the skin.
$$: Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Stick SPF 60+ - Broad Spectrum UVA-UVB PureScree Ideal for face and ears Naturally-Sourced Sunscreen Ingredients Waterproof, Fragrance Free Ideal for delicate skin #1 Dermatologist Recommended Suncare Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Lotion SPF 60+ provides superior broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection with Purescreen, a blend of naturally-sourced sunscreen ingredients. This extra-gentle formula is ideal for baby's delicate, sensitive skin.
$$$: California Baby No Fragrance SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion Unfragranced, PABA free, non-chemical, California Baby sunscreen is perfect for those with skin sensitivities or fragrance allergies. California Baby's active ingredient is a highly micronized titanium dioxide that scatters and reflects dangerous UV rays, offering UVA-UVB broad-spectrum protection. This lotion is simple and elegant; it glides on smoothly and will not slip off when it comes into contact with water, so you may rest assured that it will last. Non-staining formula. Very water-resistant.