EWG Sun Safety
EWG Sun Safety
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About the
EWG Sun Safety Campaign

Americans do not do enough to protect their skin from sun damage and prevent skin cancer. Because we are stronger together, Environmental Working Group, forward-thinking companies and concerned citizens are teaming up to make a difference.



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Sun safety tips for kids and teens

Kids are more vulnerable to sun damage. A few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person's lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. The best sunscreen is a hat and shirt. After that, protect kids with a sunscreen that's effective and safe.

Take these special precautions with infants and children:

Infants

Infants under six months should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin. So when you take your baby outside:

  • Cover up - with protective clothing, tightly woven but loose-fitting, and a sun hat.
  • Make shade - Use the stroller's canopy or hood. If you can't sit in a shady spot, use an umbrella.
  • Avoid midday sun - Take walks in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Follow product warnings for sunscreens on infants less than 6 months old. Most manufacturers advise against using sunscreens on infants or advise parents and caregivers to consult a doctor first. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants as a last resort when shade can't be found.

Toddlers and children

Sunscreens are an essential part of a day in the sun. But young children's skin is especially sensitive to chemical allergens - as well as the sun's UV rays.

  • Test sunscreen by applying a small amount on the inside of your child's wrist the day before you plan to use it. If an irritation or rash develops, try another product. Ask your child's doctor to suggest a product less likely to irritate your child's skin.
  • Slop on sunscreen and reapply it often, especially if your child is playing in the water or sweating a lot.
  • Send a sunscreen to daycare and school. Some childcare facilities provide sunscreen, but you can buy your own to make sure it's safe and effective. Share EWG's safe sunscreen tips and product suggestions with your child's school and caregiver.

Sun safety at school

Sometimes school and daycare policies interfere with children's sun safety. Many schools treat sunscreen as a medicine and require written permission to use it on a child. Some insist that the school nurse apply it. Some ban hats and sunglasses. Here are a few questions to ask your school:

  • What is the policy on sun safety?
  • Is there shade on the playground?
  • Are outdoor activities scheduled to avoid midday sun?

Teens

Teenagers coveting bronzed skin are likely to sunbathe, patronize tanning salons or buy self-tanning products - all bad ideas. Researchers believe that increasing UV exposure may have caused the marked increase in melanoma incidence noted among women born after 1965. Tanning parlors expose the skin to as much as 15 times more UV radiation than the sun and likely contribute to the melanoma increase. Many chemicals in self-tanning products have not been tested for safety; dihydroxyacetone, a self-tanning chemical most frequently found in these products, is not approved by the FDA for use around the eyes. For more tips, check out EWG and Keep A Breast’s 2014 Teen Sunscreen Guide.

To parents of teens: Be good role models - let your teen see that you protect yourself from the sun. Tan does not mean healthy.

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Products have been independently selected by EWG as effective sunscreens that do not contain potentially harmful chemicals and meet the highest standards of EWG's Sunscreen Guide.

EWG's Sunscreen Database

EWG's Sunscreen Database

Want to see how your favorite sunscreen rates in EWG’s Sunscreen Database? The 2014 EWG Sunscreen Database update is coming in late May.

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