The ABCs of sun screens for toddlers

Given the range of products offered, choosing a sunscreen is far from easy. SPF 30 OR 50? In cream form or aerosol? Here are all the answers to your questions so you can protect everyone's skin this summer and enjoy the warm weather with no worries!

Which SPF to choose?

SPF 30 is the ideal sun protection factor for children (and adults) because it offers a longer period of protection. For children who play outside all day, it's great! If your child has fair skin, light hair and pale eyes; or for a vacation down South, you could opt for SPF 50. Beyond 50, the protection is not greater. This is just a marketing strategy on the part of cosmetic companies.

How often do you apply?

Generously apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. It must then be reapplied every two hours otherwise it loses its effectiveness. It's also important to reapply after each swim, even if it has been less than 2 hours since the last application, and even if it says "resistant to water" on the bottle. Generally, you do not apply enough sunscreen. Depending on the age of the child, 15 to 30 ml of sunscreen is needed to cover the entire body.

Good (and less good!) Ingredients

Have you ever looked at the list of ingredients on your sunscreen pot? It's a safe bet that you get lost. However, it is essential to consult to avoid certain ingredients that raise concern for health risks and thus make better choices.

To avoid:

Oxybenzone: It is found in almost all chemical sunscreens (see below the difference between a chemical and physical sunscreen). An American study has shown that it is absorbed by the body, that it can disrupt the hormonal system of newborns and that it is found even in the breast milk of women who have used a sunscreen that contains it. In addition, it is frequently involved when a child has an allergic skin reaction. To avoid it, we choose the sun creams that are better for babies over six months (no sunscreen before this age) and children.

Also: Retinyl palmitate, Benzophenones, scented products and aerosol (due to possible inhalation of the product).


Zinc oxide. Used in physical sunscreens, it blocks and reflects the rays thus preventing them from penetrating the skin. It is the most effective and safest physical filter.

Also: Mexoryl, Tinosorb, Titanium Dioxide

Did you know? The SPF indicates sun protection factor against UVB only. Look for Health Canada's new logo indicating that sunscreen provides UVA protection in addition to UVB. Broad spectrum also indicates that the product protects from both types of rays.

Image de Myreille Simard

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