5 Common SPF Mistakes

by Shaun Dreisbach

5 Common SPF Mistakes

The biggest sunscreen mistakes moms make when protecting their kids from the sun

1. Not Knowing Your Kid’s Camp or School Policy
Many places either won’t reapply SPF or consider it a medication, meaning you need to send a note giving the okay.

2. Polishing Off Last Summer’s Bottle
We’ve all done this! But according to Elizabeth Hale, M.D., a clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University, opened sunscreen can lose its potency — especially over the course of 12 months — and not provide the same protection.

3. Not Reapplying Often Enough
“If your kids are out all afternoon and you don’t put more on, that 30 you used earlier in the day may really only protect like an 8 or a 6,” says Dr. Hale. Reapply every two hours and as soon as they get out of the water, regardless of how long it’s been.

4. Feeling the Need to Buy Multiple Bottles
The formulations of kids’ and adults’ brands are often the same. “Some child brands are made to be tear-free or less irritating, but if your kids don’t have any sensitivities, it’s okay to apply the same stuff you use,” says Sheila Friedlander, M.D., a clinical professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego.

5. Letting Your Child Go Without Any SPF — At Least For a Little While
“There has been a lot of talk about having kids get some sun so their bodies will produce vitamin D,” says Dr. Friedlander. (Last month, even Parenting suggested allowing a few minutes of sun sans SPF for this same reason.) “But sun exposure is no longer thought of as the main way for children to get this vitamin. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids get it through food, like fortified milk, or a supplement — so they’re not putting their skin and health at risk.”