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Sunscreen: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Family

Did you know that daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent and the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent (according to

While there is a lot of debate about the safety of some sunscreens, most doctors will tell you that simply using a sunscreen is better than no protection at all.

We know how overwhelming the sun care section of the local drugstore can be, especially if you are shopping for a sunscreen product online! (Recommended sunscreens!)

We asked dermatologist Dr. Amy Ross, a mother of three and president of PH Dermatology in Tampa Bay, to answer common questions we hear from parents regarding the best ways to protect their family from the sun’s harmful rays.

Why is it so important to teach good sun protection habits to children while they are young?
It’s very important to teach good sun protection to kids because just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life.

What’s the difference between a physical block sunscreen and chemical sunscreen? Is on better than the other?
Physical sunscreens actually block the UV rays from hitting the skin. They deflect the sun rays with ingredients like zinc or titanium. Chemical sunscreens get absorbed by the skin and interact with the sun rays to deactivate them. They sort of act like a sponge absorbing the harmful rays of the sun.

The best sunscreen is one you are comfortable wearing, however there are advantages to physical sunscreens. Not only are they are broad spectrum, protecting you from both UVA and UVB rays, but they are not absorbed into the skin and are therefore nonirritating and nonallergenic.

What’s the best way to protect my baby’s skin at the beach?
Babies have very sensitive skin and we typically recommend you don’t apply sunscreen to children less than 6 months of age. The best protection you can provide to a baby is to keep them covered. Purchasing sun protective clothing that provides complete coverage as well as a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses is important. I would also recommend an umbrella and avoiding the most intense hours of the sun between 10AM-2PM.

What brand of sunscreen do you recommend or use at home for your family?
EltaMD-SunscreenI use EltaMD sunscreen for my family. The entire line is formulated with zinc and provides excellent protection. My children are 11, 9 and 5 and can spend hours in the pool. Using the EltaMD sport with SPF50 provides them with an excellent, broad spectrum, water resistant protection. On a daily basis I use a lighter sunscreen that also contains zinc such as Skinceuticals sheer defense. It’s very lightweight and you don’t even know you have it on!





If you are searching for a more natural based sunscreen product, you can check out the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreens. Hundreds of products get a green rating from EWG, so you’ll surely find one that fits with your budget and family’s needs! Click here for EWG’s list of 22 best sunscreens for kids.

Since we love hearing about products other parents love, we asked Tampa Bay area moms to share their favorite sunscreens. Here are the brands you’ll find in their beach bag:


Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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