Summer's here, and that means long days, plenty of sunshine and the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with your loved ones. As you prep for the many adventures ahead, sun protection should be at the top of your list of priorities. But before you reach for that dusty bottle of sunscreen you stored last fall, it may be wise to check the expiration date first!
Is last year's sunscreen still effective?
First and foremost, the best indicator of the current state of your old sunscreen is to look at the expiration date. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, to test shelf life, manufacturers store a product at 40°C with 75 percent humidity; then at 40°C with 25 percent humidity; and then test it at 0, 1, 2 and 3 months.
Stability for three months in these laboratory conditions is comparable to three years in normal environments. In the vast majority of cases, you can reliably expect your sunscreen to last at least 3 years from the date you purchased it and the expiration date is a reliable indicator of its effectiveness.
In addition to the importance of the expiration date, you should also be mindful of the look and feel of the sunscreen to ensure that it hasn't broken down from one season to the next. The Mayo Clinic advises individuals and families to avoid previously-used sunscreens that may have obvious changes in color or consistency, as they may have lost their efficacy over time.
Where should I store my sunscreen?
At the end of each summer, most sunscreen is tucked away underneath the bathroom sink or stored in a closet, which may not be the best location for extending their shelf life. According to Drugs.com, sunscreen should be stored at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, it should be kept in a dark space to prevent light from causing the ingredients to separate.
So, in most cases, the fluctuating temperature and humidity levels of bathrooms are not the ideal spots for storing sunscreen, so stick with the dark, room temperature closet, instead.
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Coppertone Kids Sunscreen
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As a new mom or dad, you have a laundry list of infant health issues to be concerned with, but now that we're in the dog days of summer, sun care is likely at the top of your list of priorities. Sunburn is especially dangerous for a child's skin, and the Skin Cancer Foundation reports that suffering one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing potentially-deadly melanoma later in life.
This risk is especially acute in infants, as babies younger than 6 months old should never be in direct sunlight, while infants 6 months and older must be well-protected with sunscreen when outdoors, according to The Mayo Clinic. But how can you pick the ideal sunscreen for your little one? Here are a few key features to look for when shopping for FSA-eligible baby sunscreen.
Broad spectrum protection
On each bottle of sunscreen there are two important pieces of information to look out for. First, the product is most effective if it offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, which are the primary causes of sun damage. Additionally, the product's sun protection factor (SPF) is significant as well.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that baby sunscreen should be at least SPF 15 to provide an adequate level of protection against the sun's rays (and if using your FSA to purchase the sunscreen, only those that are SPF 15+ will qualify as eligible).
Chemical-free sunscreens are the better choice for baby sunscreen for two very important reasons. First and foremost, if ingredients in a chemical sunscreen run due to sweat or another form of moisture, they could sting the baby's eyes or could even cause a skin reaction.
Chemical-free sunscreens typically contain active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, and BabyCenter reports that these products have the added benefit of being active from the second they are rubbed onto the skin, as opposed to chemical sunscreens that may need 15-30 minutes to become active.
Now, refine your sun care routine!
When you've found the perfect baby sunscreen, it's important to remember that an infant's skin burns very easily, so you'll need to practice additional sun safety measures. These include:
Seek the shade: Whenever possible, make an effort to keep your baby in the shade to ensure that he/she will not receive direct sunlight for the majority of your time outdoors.
Avoid peak sun hours: According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, UV rays are at their most intense levels between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so re-apply sunscreen generously during these hours or keep your outdoor time reserved for the early morning and evening when the sun is not its strongest.
Invest in sun-protective clothing: In addition to using baby sunscreen, there are a number of great sun protective clothing items that can protect your infant's skin. Tightly-woven or knit clothing, hats and dark/brightly colored clothing offer the best possible protection from the sun.
For everything you need to keep your family healthy year-round, you can rely on FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products to help you maximize the potential of your employee benefits.
With powerful UVA/UVB protection, stay out of harm's way with a wide variety of FSA-eligible sunscreens.
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