Did you know that there are different types of sun screen? No, me neither. Most creams you see in the shops are what's known as chemical sun creams (that work by being absorbed into the skin where they absorb the UV rays) but there are also others available called natural sun creams (that sit on top of the skin and work by reflecting the UV radiation like a mirror).
The jury is out on which type are best to use, but with many parents chosing products with natural ingredients for their children, these sun creams are sure to be a popular choice this summer.
One thing I do know is that my son came home from the park with a bright red face the last time we had an even vaguely sunny day. And now that the cold snap is finally thawing, we need to start getting in the habit of slapping on the sun screen yet again. Remember to put plenty of sun screen on your children in the morning before they go out.
Natural products website Big Green Smile sent me a selection of their natural sun care products to try out.
First up was the Sunbrellas Family Natural Sunblock by JASON (£11.99). This water-resistant, non-greasy cream is designed to be used by all the family. It has a Sun Protection Factor of 45 and a really nice coconutty smell. The soft white cream's ingredients include shea butter, cucumber and green tea extract. It disappeared into my skin straight away, unlike other creams I've tried with a similar SPF which leave you looking like Caspar the Friendly Ghost. This would be my first choice since one bottle gives good coverage for the whole family.
Then we tried Lavera Neutral Sun Milk (£10.50). A past winner in the Natural Health Magazine Beauty Awards, it's fragrance free and suitable for sensitive skins. With an SPF of 20 it is probably better suited to adults than children. It contains organic Jojoba, organic Evening Primrose Grapeseed and Vitamin E. Unlike most sunscreens which recommend that you apply them well in advance or going out in the sun, this product claims to be effective immediately. So it's more practical if you're on holiday and dashing about. A recommended product if your skin is sensitive or prone to irritation.
Also in the Lavera range, we tried out their Family Sun-Spray (£16.50). This had an SPF of 15, which I thought was quite low for a product to be used by children. The spray makes it easier to apply to wriggly children, and it has a pleasant lemony scent. Contains extracts of jojoba and calendula.
The down side to these products is that they are inevitably pricier than bog standard sun screen that you might pick up at the supermarket. But since they contain natural (often organic) ingredients, you do get what you pay for. And if I'm plastering it on to my young child's skin, i'd prefer to stick with the natural option. One bottle of sun screen will probably last you most of the summer, so even if you pay a little more you will still get good value on a per-use basis.
Sun Cream Tips from BigGreenSmile.com
· Check the use by date - most creams last 2-3 years, so it's OK to use last year's cream but not one that's five years old
· Choose a cream that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation – it may be labeled ' broad spectrum'
· Make sure it is at least SPF 15 – and higher is even better
· Don't assume that, because you have put sun cream on, you can stay out without burning. Keep checking your skin and re-apply the sun cream at least every two hours
· Put it on before you go in the sun and put another layer on to make sure you haven't missed a bit.
· Put the sun cream on before anything else, so that it is next to your skin.
· Put it on thickly – if it disappears quickly when you put it on, you are probably not putting on enough