Okay, I know, the time for this has almost passed. I did mean to do this in early July but time kind of, well, not so much ran as concord-ed away from me. So here we are, in mid August and in the vain hope that the sun will reappear, or that you’ll be back to find this when the sun comes out from behind the clouds again in, say, twelve months time, I’ve finally done a bit of digging into the question of children’s suncream.
Just how different are the ones designed for kids? It is really important to buy separate bottles for the children? Or is it a marketing scam? I got back in touch with Dr Chris Flower, Director General of The Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfumeries Association (and the man who gave us the low down on kids shampoo and toothpaste last year). I left aside the question of organic brands – if you choose organic it’s probably based on a personally held set of values that apply to your whole family – children and adults. I wanted to know what, if any, differences there were between the kids and adult versions of the major brands – Nivea, Soltan and the like. Here’s what he said:
“There are probably two main points to make.
First, they are made to exactly the same high safety and efficacy standard so they will work exactly as described and they will be safe to use on children (and on adults too).
Second, they are often formulated slightly differently to take account of the fact that children are usually more active than adults and, in spite of the advice, less likely to re-apply the product or have it re-applied. So, the formula will be a little heavier and stickier (probably not the right terms that a formulator would use!) since children will be less bothered by the aesthetics of the product whereas adults generally prefer products that feel lighter and appear to rub in rather than leave what feels like a layer of product on the skin. Of course, both do leave a layer on the skin surface because that is where the protective ingredients must be in order to be effective. So a children’s product will be less likely to run when they get hot, less likely to rub off as they play and less likely to wash away as they run in and out of the water.
Some children’s sun protection products are coloured or may remain slightly white on the skin so you can see whether you have missed any bits when applying them. The fragrance is also likely to be less ‘adult’ and may just be enough to mask the background smell of the ingredients and the packaging is likely to be more attractive for children and indicating it is for them to use.
Of course, adults can use children’s product and vice versa and still get the protection necessary but, to adults, the children’s products might not feel so pleasant and, for children, adult products need to be applied carefully and re-applied diligently to maintain protection. However, if you find you have run out of one or the other when out and about, it is better to use what you have rather than nothing at all.”