Sunscreen Scare

Sunscreen Scare

17 July, 2017
Children's summer sun care guide
Look out for these labels before you make your next purchase

Sunny days and relaxing warm weather come with a price—the risks associated with harm caused by UV rays on your skin. Naturally, worried parents loading up their shelves with the “most effective” sunscreen brands and lathering it on their kids before sending them out into the sun isn’t an uncommon sight during the summer vacation months.

A recent study done by the Environmental Working Group on 46 sunscreen products showed a few eyebrow-raising findings. Here are some things you should probably pay attention to when you want to buy a bottle of sunscreen for your kids:

Spray sunscreens

Sure, spritzing a bottle of liquid product is easy and it doesn’t require getting your hands greasy and sticky. Due to the convenience, practically everyone would prefer to opt for this method. Thus, almost one in every three sunscreens comes in the form of a spray, according to this year’s findings.

However, spray sunscreen may not provide a thick enough coat to protect your skin from the harsh ray particles. More importantly though, spray sunscreens can pose inhalation risks during the application. If you can smell it, chances are the particles are bound to enter your lungs. This may pose greater discomfort to kids, especially those with allergies or asthma. "These high-alcohol formulas could irritate the lungs, and their ingredients could be absorbed into the bloodstream," explains Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at Environmental Working Group. These ingredients include oxybenzone, which brings us to our next risk...


Around 75 per cent of this year’s sunscreens contained worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone, an active ingredient in most sunscreens. While it does help preserve the deterioration of the product under the sun, there are still some concerning side effects associated with its usage which are not so favourable to the body, especially in large doses.

Higher concentrations of oxybenzone are believed to act similarly to estrogen hormones, leading to risks of breast cancer or health disorders. It is also recommended that children’s exposure to oxybenzone be kept to a minimum based on the assertion that children under the age of two might not have developed the enzymes needed to break down the derivatives of the chemical.

SPFs way too high

Raise your hand if you immediately go for the sunscreens that claim to have higher SPFs, usually above 50+. We all do, as we believe that it gives a stronger protection against the UVB rays that burn the skin. Thus, we are more willing to stay out in the sun for longer periods of time. Whilst this is true to an extent, we often neglect how these “strong” lotions with undesirable substances could actually be penetrating children’s delicate skin. It could provoke skin ageing, weaken immune system and may cause skin cancer. Due to these serious dangers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering a ban on SPF ratings above 50+.

Try to spend an extra minute or two reading the ingredients carefully before buying a sunscreen for your kids. Have fun and stay safe!

By: Sumichhya Gurung


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