A woman shading herself with a sun hat.

The most effective sun protection is prevention:

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Keeping hats on kids’ heads can be tricky. Model the behavior you want to see!
  • Wear loose-fitting, tightly knit clothing that covers. Some retailers specialize in apparel specially designed for UV protection.
  • Put on broad spectrum sunglasses. More than a mere fashion accessory! Sunglasses help protect your eyes.
  • Seek shade. Look for opportunities to duck out of the sun.
  • Note the UV index. You can burn even on a cloudy day.
  • Avoid sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (peak UV hours). Play outside in the morning and evening.
  • Get enough Vitamin D. Researchers think lower levels of Vitamin D increases the risks of sunburn and developing skin cancer.
  • Wear safe sunscreen.

A good sunscreen:

1. Is well-rated by the Environmental Working Group

2. Provides broad spectrum protection

Even though exposure to both UVA and UVB contributes to the development of melanoma — the most deadly skin cancer — SPF measures only UVB. Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both.

3. Should not contain dangerous ingredients

Avoid:

  • Oxybenzone,  a hormone disruptor that can also trigger allergic reactions
  • Retinyl palminate, a form of vitamin A linked to skin tumours and lesions on sun-exposed skin
  • The “Dirty Dozen” ingredients, including parabens, phthalate, PEG, parfum (a.k.a. fragrance) and sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate

4. Is a cream (not spray or powder)

Choose mineral-based creams. (While you might like transparent options, larger white particles provide better UVA protection!) Research shows titanium dioxide and zinc oxide do not migrate through skin, but inhaled nanoparticles enter the blood stream through the lungs.

5. Offers SPF 30

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job protecting against UVB when applied properly. Choosing a broad spectrum sunscreen will ensure adequate UVA coverage, but a higher SPF doesn’t mean better UVB protection. Research indicates that an SPF higher than 30 is mostly marketing and that high ratings give people a false sense of security, which leads to inadequate use and increased exposure.

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