Babies under six months shouldn’t use sunscreen, and dark skin doesn’t need it—how many times have you heard those claims? They're wrong.
From babies to the elderly, skin cancer is a real, proven threat no matter what color your skin is. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is a proven human carcinogen that sunscreen protects against.
Melanoma from sunburn damage accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases, but is responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
Many people mistakenly believe that darker skinned babies are less likely to develop damage from UV rays than those who are fair-skinned.
Sunscreen is typically not recommended for babies under six months old.
That's because baby skin is much thinner than that of adults and will easily absorb the harsh chemical ingredients in many sunscreens.
Infants have a high surface-area-to-body-weight ratio compared to bigger kids and adults. This means your baby’s exposure to the sunscreen’s chemicals is much greater, potentially increasing the risk of an allergic reaction or inflammation from the product.
Although it’s best to keep all infants out of the sun as much as possible and use a hat and lightweight protective clothing at the beach or poolside, using sunscreen safely is better than getting a sunburn.
Your preemie’s skin is super-porous and not yet the defense system it will soon be once it has grown and thickened more.
Though you may protect your preemie by never taking them into the sun until they've matured enough to catch up with their peers, their still growing-and-thickening skin can be extremely susceptible to chemical ingredients.
Sunscreens made with harsh chemicals slip through those open pores and can disrupt your baby’s healthy internal development.
Using sunscreen that is free of harsh chemicals and instead uses ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide does not create the same risks.
Unlike chemical lotions that require 15-30 minutes to be absorbed into the skin, sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide start protecting as soon as you put them on. They sit on top of the skin and form an immediate physical barrier against the sun’s rays.
Although fresh air and moderate sun exposure is essential to good health, using a broad spectrum sunblock should be a must for anyone—of any skin tone—who plans to enjoy a lot of outdoor activity.
So don’t be afraid to take your baby for a dip in the water, just use sun smarts when it comes to your sunscreen. And remember to protect their eyes too.