Fun in the Sun Without Any Harm

A child’s skin is especially prone to sun damage. We look at how to choose the right sun protection and safety for your child.

The sun’s rays can trigger positive biological reactions, such as the synthesis of vitamin D, which stimulates the metabolism of calcium and promotes bone growth. However, solar radiation can also induce harmful biological effects. The effect from infrared rays can lead to sunstroke with dizziness and/ or headache, even heatstroke. Children are especially prone to this. Also, the skin’s epidermis could be burnt by UVB/UVA rays, resulting in sunburn.

In the long term, repeated exposure to the sun without suitable effective protection leads to skin cells deteriorating. UVA rays speed up skin ageing and destroy the skin’s elasticity. UVB rays can induce skin cancer via a photo-carcinogenesis mechanism.

Researchers from Laboratoires Expanscience have discovered that babies’ skin is more sensitive to UV radiation compared to adult skin. Their skin barrier is still immature and thus much more vulnerable to external aggressors. During sun exposure, the barrier in babies’ skin is twice as likely to be damaged as it is among adults. Until they reach age 3, infants do not have a fully developed skin defence system, which leaves them highly vulnerable to the sun’s rays.

As a result, doctors strongly recommend that babies be kept out of direct sunlight. If your activities require your baby to be in the sun,be sure to take special precautions to protect that delicate skin.

Sun protection products have been shown to be effective against these risks: studies show that systematically protecting your baby against the sun greatly reduces the risk of melanomas appearing later on in life.


It is vital to choose sunscreen that is optimally effective against the sun’s harmful rays, but also respects your child’s delicate skin and preserves its supply of healthy cells.

The right sun protection for your baby should meet the following criteria:

1. It should offer SPF 50+ and UVA protection combined with protection of the cutaneous barrier to preserve the skin’s natural defences and prevent any cell damage that could result from exposure to the sun.

2. It should offer a guarantee of high tolerance: the formula should be hypoallergenic, alcohol- and paraben-free and dermatologically tested.

3. It should be suitable for a child’s activities: the product should be water- and sweat-resistant, and visible when applied so that you don’t overlook any area of the skin.

4. It should be appropriate for your child’s skin type: if your baby has sensitive skin, choose a product specially designed for intolerant skin.

5. You may also consider a sunscreen with mineral or organic mineral filters. Unlike organic filters which absorb only certain wavelengths, mineral/ organic-mineral sunscreens reflect and diffuse UV rays irrespective of their wavelength. Their photostability and their ability to remain on the skin’s surface for long periods of time also make them better suited for the protection of children’s skin.

This article is taken from our My Alvernia Magazine Issue #31. To read more, click here or here.