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Your Guide to Sunscreen for All Ages

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using a broad-spectrum product with an SPF of 15 or higher to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Broad-spectrum products protect against both types of rays, and the higher SPF a product has the more UVB protection it will provide.

The Skin Cancer Foundation also recommends looking for products with a combination of avobenzone, ecamsule, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Check out this list of the safest sunscreens for kids.

Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide
Try to avoid using a chemical sunscreen (although the chemicals aren't thought to be dangerous, they can cause irritation or an allergic reaction in some children when absorbed into the skin), and look for one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide on the label. These ingredients aren't absorbed, and instead sit on top of the skin to create a barrier against the sun's rays.

Products that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, they begin protecting your child right away, while chemical-based sunscreens need to be applied at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure in order to give the active ingredients time to be absorbed into the skin.

If you don't want to use a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide product on your child's body, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using them at least on sensitive areas, such as the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears, and shoulders.

PABA-free Products
When choosing a chemical-based product, be sure to use one that is labeled "PABA-free." Once widely used in most sunscreens, PABA has been linked to skin rashes and irritation.

To see if your child will have an adverse reaction to a chemical-based product, test a small amount on the upper, inner arm a day or two before you need to use it. If your child develops rash or irritation by the next day, you'll likely have to use a different product.

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