Here Comes the Sun! The Scoop on SPF

More Answers to Your Sun Safety Questions

Dad with baby on beach

Amy Postle

Is it safe to use sunscreen on my infant?
It is, though doctors suggest that infants younger than 6 months get no sun at all. If you're outside with your baby, seek shade as much as possible, dress your child in a hat and UV- protective clothing, and use sunscreen on any exposed body parts. Babies have less melanin in their skin than older children and adults -- plus their skin is thinner, making them more apt to burn.

Do sprays work as well as lotions do?
Yes, if you use them properly. But most people tend to put on far too little spray sunscreen, especially on windy days when it tends to blow away. Apply liberally and rub well so that the droplets disperse and cover the skin.

Do I need to use as much sunscreen if my child tans easily?
You do. "A tan is a sign that the skin is being damaged by UV light," says Dr. Davis. Even though we tend to think that a tan makes you look healthy, there's nothing healthy about it. People who have a dark complexion are less likely to get skin cancer than those with fair skin, but they're still susceptible to sun damage like wrinkles, so they need sunscreen anyway.

Does my child need to swear sunscreen during a long car ride?
Actually, yes. "UVA is a long wavelength of light, which means it's able to pass through car windows," Dr. Davis explains.

Is it okay if I use my unfinished bottle from last summer?
As long as it has not expired, it should be okay to use it. But if you left your sunscreen in direct heat for a couple of days -- for example, in a hot car or on a sunny windowsill -- it may have lost some of its efficacy. In that case, especially if there is no expiration date listed on the container, it might be best to play it safe and just start fresh with a new bottle.

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