Sunscreen 101: Best Practices to Protect Your Skin


We’re in the midst of a bright hot summer – what other way to spend it than outdoors? If you’re planning to spend time soaking up the sun with the family, you’ll want to ensure that you’re protecting your child’s skin from those harmful UVA and UVB rays. 

In order to keep your kids from getting sunburned this summer, make sure to use the right sunscreen!

Choosing the right sunscreen

There are a few key things to look for when choosing the right sunscreen for your kids:

  • Look for a sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher. SPF stands for sun protection factor – which ranks a sunscreen’s effectiveness for preventing sunburn.

  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that shields against both UVA & UVB Rays 
  • Select a sunscreen that is water-resistant and lasts for at least 40-80 minutes

There are a variety of different types of sunscreen, including lotions, sprays, gels and roll-on sticks. Lotions are the best choice for overall skin protection and for drier skin, gels are great to use around the scalp area. Roll-on sticks are best for protecting sensitive facial areas – like the eyes.

A couple of points to consider when choosing the right sunscreen

  • It is advisable to avoid products that contain PABA, as it may cause an allergic reaction. 
  • For sensitive skin, look to use sunscreens that contain the active ingredient titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays while being gentle enough on the skin to apply around the eyes!

It is important to note that babies 6 months and younger should avoid long periods of direct sun exposure. Make sure to dress your child to protect against the sun, or if you can’t avoid it, make sure to lightly apply sunscreen to the exposed skin.

Applying sunscreen

Now that you’ve chosen the right sunscreen, here’s how to properly apply it for the best sun protection:

  • Help your kids apply sunscreen at least 15-30 minutes before they plan to go outside. 
  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to cover all exposed areas every 2 hours of time that your kids remain outside – and even more frequently if they’re sweating, swimming or in water.

  • Make sure to get all areas of the body, including the hands, feet, shoulders, ears and behind the neck and other places that are exposed to the sun. Apply lip balm with SPF 30.

  • If your kids are swimming, you’ll want to make sure to use water-resistant sunscreen for lasting protection, since water reflects and increases the effect of the sun’s rays.
  • Throw out any sunscreen that is past its expiration date! 

Do my children really need sunscreen?

Everyone should use sunscreen when being exposed to direct sunlight! The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that all kids — regardless of their skin tone — wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen is the best way to protect your kids from harmful UV rays and to prevent skin damage and long-term skin conditions, such as skin cancer.  

Be a great example to your kids and wear sunscreen when going out in the sun – not only to protect your own skin health but to get your kids into the good habit of doing the same. 

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24/7 Pediatric Care Centers are Jacksonville pediatricians, Jacksonville Beach pediatricians, and Fleming Island pediatricians providing care for children from newborn to 18 years. Our 24-hour office also provides services for non-life-threatening illnesses to registered patients 24 hours a day.

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