We know it’s not easy putting sunscreen on squirmy kids, but new research has revealed Britain’s parents could be doing a better job of protecting their children’s skin in the sunshine.
A survey from Disney Junior UK’s Parenting Hacks podcast has uncovered a shocking amount of confusion over when, where and how to use suncream.
Parents' mistakes are putting kids at risk of burning and increasing their risk of skin cancer in later life.
It’s a particular worry right now, with a heatwave on the way .
Here are the five biggest mistakes the research uncovered, plus advice from the British Association of Dermatologists to help parents get it right.
We've also rounded up some of the best new SPFs to look after young skin, all offering high protection against the sun's damaging rays.
MISTAKE: 46% of parents say they’re not sure how often to apply sunscreen to kids.
Fix it: In general, creams should be reapplied every 2 hours if you’re in the dry, says Dr Sweta Rai from the British Association of Dermatologists.
If they’re swimming or playing in water, the sunscreen could wash off and it should be reapplied sooner.
For best protection, apply sunscreen half an hour before going into the sun, and top it up 15 minutes after going out to ensure you cover any missed areas.
Even with ‘once a day’ sunscreens the BDA recommends you reapply them, as you may have missed patches with the first application which could then burn if left in the sun without any protection.
To help parents apply enough sunscreen, Disney Junior UK is handing out 10,000 packs of sun safety stickers, featuring its hit series Vampirina , at supermarkets and airports this summer.
The stickers turn from white to blue and warn parents when it’s time to top up the sun protection.
MISTAKE: 24% of parents don’t know which products to buy because they don’t understand SPFs and star ratings on bottles
The British Association of Dermatologists’ recommendation is to apply a sunscreen with both an SPF of 30 or above, and five star UVA rating.
This ensures good protection against both UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) rays.
Every skin type has a time period in which your skin becomes pink or red, and SPF 30 means it takes 30 times longer for skin to get to this stage.
It’s also important to protect against UVA rays (shown by the star rating on the bottle), as these penetrate deeper in the skin.
MISTAKE: 45% of parents think risk of sunburn is all down to temperature
Fix it: Sunburn is caused by UV rays rather than heat itself, so don’t judge sunburn risk by temperature alone.
UV rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm, so spend time in the shade – and don’t forget to apply sun cream even then.
Even if you’re sitting in the shade, depending on the thickness of cover, UV light can still penetrate through and it's possible to burn.
Children’s skin is thinner than that of an adult, so is more likely to get sunburned in the shade.
MISTAKE: 29% rarely put SPF on kids in the UK, even in summer, and 79% never apply it if it’s cloudy
Fix it: Get sun savvy – harmful rays can still penetrate through even when it's cloudy and you can’t see any direct sunlight.
This can lead to low-grade sun exposure which over a long period time can cause non-melanoma type skin cancer.
Disney Junior’s research found that 30% of parents say their children have been sunburned.
The BDA says that just one episode of sunburn under the age of 20 may increase the risk of skin cancer in later life.
MISTAKE: 78% miss body bits when applying to SPF to kids, with armpits and eyelids being the most common areas missed.
Fix it: Skin cancer is particularly common on eyelids so it's very important to protect them.
Sunglasses that block UV light and sun hats with a unit protection factor (UPF) of 50 will help so that you’re not relying on sunscreen alone.
UPF is measured on the type, weave and colour of the cloth, and you can find out the UPF of clothing on labels to ensure what you and your kids are wearing gives the best protection.
Five of the best sun creams for kids
Keep your little ones safe in the sun with these high-factor formulas…
Green People Organic Children Scent-free Sun Lotion SPF 30, £19
This scent-free cream is reef-friendly and great for those with sensitive skin
Boots Soltan Kids Protect & Moisturise SPF50+, £4
This bargain spray makes it quick and easy to apply and it has a high UVA & UVB protection
Calypso Kids Sun Lotion SPF50, £5
It offers UVA/UVB protection and contains hypoallergenic ingredients
Childs Farm SPF 50+ Roll-on Sun Lotion , £9.99
A moisturising roll-on that won't aggravate even eczema-prone skin
Nivea Kids Sun Cream Pink Roll-on Extra Water Resistant , £4.50
For those who love the water, this extra water resistant cream offers full spectrum protection
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