How often should you apply your child’s sunscreen?

Applying sunscreen is important, but do you know how long it will protect you? We explain exactly how SPF works, PLUS recommend 6 of our best sunscreens for kids. By Xanet Scheepers

South Africa has one of the highest monitored Ultra Violet (UV) levels in the world, and our country is heating up, receiving more UV exposure than in years gone by. With skin cancer being a serious consequence of sun-damaged skin, it’s not good enough to just apply the first sunscreen you can lay your hands on. Do you know how long your sunscreen will protect you?

ALSO SEE: 5 natural ways to treat sunburn 

How SPF works

The SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, displayed on sunscreen is an indication of how well that product will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVB rays (Ultra Violet B). These are the rays responsible for the redness of skin, burning, skin damage, skin spots and ultimately skin cancer.

The SPF number works like this:

  • If it takes your unprotected skin five minutes to start turning red in the sun, then an SPF 20 sunscreen will give you 20 times that number or minutes’ protection. (5 x 20 = 100 minutes, or 1 hour 40).
  • If you turn red after five minutes and you use an SPF 50 sunscreen, you’ll get 50 times as much protection. (5 x 50 = 250 minutes, or 4 hours 10 minutes).

The best sunscreen to use

Apply a sunscreen bearing the CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa) Seal of Recognition (CSOR).

Here’s a round-up of our favourite sunscreens for the whole family:

For mom and dad

Everysun Everyday Moisturising Lotion SPF 20

This two-in-one product was specifically created for men and women who dislike using a daily sunscreen because of the oily, silvery, ashy residue it leaves on the skin. Everysun’s new Everyday Moisturising Lotion is fast absorbing, promotes even-toned skin and will leave your skin feeling hydrated, smooth and protected. You can also use it on both your face and body.

R49.99 for 200ml and R84.99 for 400ml from all leading retail outlets.

Everysun Everyday Moisturising Lotion SPF 20

For the kids

NIVEA Kids Protect & Play SPF 50 +

Kids will love the novelty of smearing the colourful sunscreen on their faces, making application easier and a whole lot more fun. Good news for moms is that the formula is extra water resistant and (thankfully) disappears into the skin after application, ensuring even coverage and reliable protection.

R94.99 for 50ml from leading retail outlets and pharmacies.

NIVEA Kids Protect & Play SPF 50 +

Island Tribe Kids Light Lotion Trigger Spray SPF 50

Island Tribe sunscreens are designed to give you maximum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. What’s more, it will stay put during activities. It is also recognised by the CANSA Organisation as a prevention against skin cancer.

R189.99 for 300ml from leading retailers.

Island Tribe Kids Light Lotion Trigger Spray SPF 50

Cetaphil Sun Liposomal Lotion for Kids SPF 50+

 Cetaphil Sun Kids SPF 50+ Liposomal Lotion is specially formulated for kids as young as a year old and contains UV filters to protect their delicate skin from the sun’s rays.

R199.95 for 150ml from Dis-Chem.

Cetaphil Sun Liposomal Lotion for Kids SPF 50+

Xeroderm Sunscreen Baby and Kids SPF 40

This broad-spectrum sunscreen offers high and photo stable UVA / UVB protection for little ones. Apply at least 30 minutes before sun exposure.

R124.95 for 150ml from Dis-Chem.

Xeroderm Sunscreen Baby and Kids SPF 40 Pure Beginnings Sensitive Sun Milk SPF 50+

This naturally gentle Sun Milk promises to keep delicate skin safe, even when out and about splashing in the water! Free from any nasties, the broad spectrum sun protection has been specifically formulated by Pure Beginnings for your little ones and their sensitive skin.

R299 for 100ml from

Pure Beginnings Sensitive Sun Milk SPF 50+

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