Protect your children’s skin – sun and UV protection

apsiaga nuo saulės ir UV

SPF types, the most common ingredients in sunscreens for children’s skin, and tips on how to avoid adverse UV effects on skin

The skin is the largest organ in the body, accounting for about 10% of a person’s body mass. Skin ageing occurs when exposed to various external factors such as UV radiation. The skin becomes thinner, drier, less elastic and wrinkled, increasing the risk of skin malignancies. To prevent such unwanted skin processes, sun protection factor (SPF) skin care products are used. Sun protection is essential in summer to prevent sunburn and permanent skin damage [1,2].

The SPF is a number that indicates how many times longer we can spend in the sun with a sunscreen product compared to how long our skin would last without any protection. For example, if your skin normally burns in 10 minutes, using an SPF 30 product can give you up to 300 minutes in the sun (10 minutes x 30). However, recent scientific evidence suggests that SPF products should be reapplied every 1-2 hours [2, 3].

There are different types of SPF, such as SPF 5, 10, 15, 30, 50 etc. The higher the SPF number, the greater the protection against UVB rays that cause sunburn. However, it is important to note that SPF does not reduce the harmful effects of UVA rays, which are linked to the development of long-term skin damage (premature skin ageing and risk of melanoma). It is important to remember that SPF protection is essential in the absence of sunlight and on cloudy days, as it is not uncommon for the UV index to be higher than normal during the summer period (you can check the index daily on the internet or on an app on your phone, e.g. the “UV index app”) [4, 5].

Babies and children are particularly sensitive to the sun’s rays, so adequate sun protection is essential. It is recommended to use at least SPF 30 products specially formulated for children and babies. It is also important to use other protective equipment, such as hats, caps and shade, to minimise the direct effects of sunlight on your baby’s skin. It is also important to maintain fluid balance after a day in the sun, as prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to increased sweating, which can cause the body to lose fluid, and it is recommended that you take electrolytes from time to time to restore the body’s physiological barrier. It’s important to moisturise your skin and choose body care products that contain emollients, which form a protective barrier on the skin’s surface to help prevent moisture loss and keep skin soft and supple. The most popular emollients in skin care products are jojoba, coconut, almond, olive oils, shea butter, glycerin, squalane, dimethicone, ceramides [5, 6].


Here are some of the ingredients you can find in children’s sunscreen cosmetics:

  • Zinc oxide. It is a mineral filter that reflects UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays age the skin and can cause skin cancer, while UVB rays are responsible for sunburn. Zinc oxide is known for its ability to effectively block both types of radiation. It is considered safe and gentle for children’s sensitive skin. When products with this mineral filter are applied to the skin, the zinc oxide forms a white layer that can slightly lighten a child’s skin, but many sunscreen brands now offer products with ‘micronized’ or ‘nano’ zinc oxide particles, which are smaller and less bleach-like, while still providing effective sun protection. Zinc oxide is also known to be suitable for individuals with more sensitive skin [5, 6, 7].
  • Titanium dioxide. Another mineral filter that provides protection against UVA and UVB rays. Like zinc oxide, it forms a physical barrier on the surface of the skin and reflects both types of sunlight, tending to give the skin a white tint. It also creates a lighter texture for the cream/sunscreen. Titanium dioxide is usually combined with zinc oxide to create a stronger effect. It is important to note that the safety of this component has recently been questioned, but it can still be found in a small number of products on the market [5, 6, 7].
  • Octocrylene. It is an organic UV filter that protects against UVA and UVB radiation. Although octocrylene is safe for use in children’s cosmetics, those with sensitive and allergy-prone skin should choose products with other UV filters, such as zinc oxide. This ingredient helps to stabilise other sunscreen components and provides additional UVB protection [5, 6, 7].
  • Mexoryl SX (Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid). It is a chemical compound that mainly provides protection against UVA rays. It effectively blocks short UVA rays, which are known to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin. This component is best used in combination with anti-UVB ingredients [5, 6, 7].


A safe sun protection factor (SPF) is an indispensable aspect during the summer. When choosing the right SPF, we need to consider its performance, differences and suitability for different age groups. It is recommended to use a higher SPF if you are going to be in the sun for a long time or if you have a more sensitive skin type. Please note that sun protection is not the only remedy – it is important to wear protective clothing and avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, especially for babies and children.


  1. Saleh, M. M., O. Awwad et al. Correlation of skin cancer and actinic keratosis-related knowledge and sun protection behaviors and sunscreen use among a sample of Jordanian population. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Vol. 21, issue 12, p.p. 7066-7074. 2022. Accessed via:
  2. Olivet, M., & Kole, L. Sunscreen Knowledge and Sun Protective Behaviors among Medical Students at a Southern US Institution. SKIN The Journal of Cutaneous Medicine, 7(2), 668-680, 2023. Accessed via:
  3. Emily Keyes, Victoria P. Werth, Bruce Brod. Potential allergenicity of commonly sold high SPF broad spectrum sunscreens in the United States; from the perspective of patients with autoimmune skin disease. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology. Vol. 5, issue 4, 2019, p.p. 227-232, ISSN 2352-6475.
  4. Phadungsaksawasdi, P, Sirithanabadeekul, P. Ultraviolet filters in sunscreen products labeled for use in children and for sensitive Pediatric Dermatology.. 2020; 37: 632- 636.
  5. H.P. Infante, P.M.B.G. Maia Campos, L.S. Calixto, M.E. Darvin, M. Kröger, S. Schanzer, S.B. Lohan, J. Lademann, M.C. Meinke, Influence of physical-mechanical properties on SPF in sunscreen formulations on ex vivo and in vivo skin. International Journal of Pharmaceutics. Vol. 598, 2021. ISSN 0378-5173,
  6. Ma, Y, Yoo, J. History of sunscreen: An updated view.Journal ofCosmeticDermatology. p., 1044- 1049, 2021. Available at:
  7. Charalambides et al. Effect of sunscreen application under maximal-use conditions on plasma concentration of sunscreen active ingredients: a critical appraisal. British Journal of Dermatology, Volume 182, Issue 6, 1 June 2020, Pages 1345-1347,