Skin Care for Kids
Every parent wants the best for their children. And as a skin expert, I get asked about skin care for children a ton! It’s a topic that seems to be top of mind early in the school year, and as schools in British Columbia get back to routine, I am constantly having conversations about this very topic that is near and dear to my heart as I myself am a mother of two young children.
In this article, I want to share some of my top skin care tips for kids that are simple yet extremely effective. (Pssst, teenage acne will not be discussed in this article as that is a topic in and of itself!). I have a lot to say on skincare for newborns as well, but for today, let’s focus on kids' skin care.
Summer, Sunscreen, and Sun Protection
The cancer society does not recommend sunscreen for children under the age of six months.
I also advise against the use of spray-on sunscreen. While it is easy to apply and while the formulation improves each year, its negative ingredients outweigh the benefit of its ease of application. I do, however, love a good quality sunscreen that is void of harmful filters such as oxybenzone, known to be controversial.
Also crucial for sun protection are physical filters such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. I personally love sunscreen in a dry powder formulation for easy reapplication by younger kids. Another reason I love this type of sunscreen is that it is less sensitive to deterioration from heat when it is left in cars over the summer months (don’t worry, I’m guilty of this myself!).
No matter what, reapplication remains the key to good sun protection habits for anybody and is a vital habit to instill in our children.
At the end of the day, the best approach to skin care for kids is to use products that mimic the skin structure. Over-bathing, especially of infants, will lead to skin barrier disruption. Because of this, I advise all mothers not to use bathing as part of their nighttime routine. Consider the ingredients in products commonly used to make bathtime fun like bubble bath. For children who suffer from skin barrier disorders, a choice that is seemingly simple can have very irritating consequences for their delicate skin.
Winter Time Needs
In the winter months, I recommend using a moisturizer that has a higher lipid content.
Kids are creatures of routine, just like adults. Teach them to moisturize and cleanse their skin as soon as they are of age to do so. Cleansing can even be as simple as using a microfiber cloth! It is habitual just like learning to brush your teeth, and a habit that will serve your children for a lifetime.
Okay, now onto the juicy stuff…
Ingredients to avoid in skincare products for kids include preservatives, emulsifiers, colorants, fragrances, mineral oils, and silicones. The ingredients you want to look for instead include bio-compatible ingredients that repair the skin such as phosphatidylcholine, ceramides, squalane, and parkki butter, just to name a few.
While your skincare routine ideally remains the same year-round, the products used can be alternated seasonally to compensate for the environmental changes. As mentioned earlier, winter requires higher lipid content in a cream formulation, while a lower lipid content is perfectly adequate in warmer months or areas of high humidity.
Making it Fun!
Now, I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is how do we make this fun for kids?
To urge kids to want to do it themselves, gamify their regime! For my kids, we set a race to see who finishes first, or we do the when/then rule (for example, when you finish brushing teeth, washing your face, and putting on your sunscreen, then you can watch TV until we leave for school). Trust me, it works!
I will admit, my inner circle of friends who have daughters don’t seem to have as much of a battle as I have as a mom of boys to get this going, but my children understand that I categorize the importance of sun protection as highly as I do brushing their teeth. It is simply non-negotiable in our home. While it is not always smooth sailing, and the beginning of summer always means I have to redraw the ‘battle line’ for sun protection, a few weeks of consistently standing unwavering in my laid down boundaries eventually means they stop trying to avoid it.
If you have your own tips and tricks for your kid’s skincare habits, send me an email! I promise that instilling these habits and knowledge young will pay off in their adulthood.