Taking care of our children’s skin is a top priority for us parents. Their skin is thinner than ours is and it can be more prone to sensitivity, therefore needs extra TLC.
Exposure to the sun and extreme temperatures (either hot or cold) can also cause drying, itchiness and inflammation. Whether you just want to stay on top of their skincare, or you are battling eczema or other skin issues, here are my five top tips I’ve picked up and stuck to throughout my parenting journey, which I hope will help you take care of and protect your kids skin too.
1. Stay Away From Dyes and Perfumes
Many dyes and perfumes are harsh on adult skin, so imagine what they will do to your child’s. Look through your laundry detergent, lotions, shampoos and soaps to see what they are made of. These products will list dyes and perfumes in the ingredient list, often near the end of the list. Your best bet is to find products that are recommended by a dermatologist and are for sensitive skin and pick organic wherever you can. I’d recommend that you look out for the COSMOS logo on skincare products – the global beauty and skincare industry isn’t regulated from an organic perspective in the same way food is - so to avoid products claiming to be natural and organic when they are not, you can pick products and brands that have the COSMOS-standard signature - which is a consumer guarantee for organic and natural cosmetics that you can trust. My son suffered with eczema and after trying numerous brands claiming to be sensitive and natural to no avail (as well as various other home remedies that didn’t work!), I decided to research 100% organic products to see if that made a difference and after testing various brands, I settled on a rich body butter from Soulskin, which soothed the itchiness and eventually got rid of his eczema altogether.
In my experience it’s always best to do a test on your child’s skin if you want to try out a new product. When possible, get a trial size of the product and place just a little bit on the inside of their wrist. If they are allergic, it usually shows up within minutes but it can take up to a couple of hours. I always have some healing lotion and some antihistamines on hand just in case there is a reaction.
2. Use Sunscreen All Year Long
Our parents or grandparents may not have worried about sunscreen, but we know better now. We have all learned that whilst we all need a bit of exposure to the sun so our bodies can produce the all-important Vitamin D, UV rays can wreak havoc on the precious outer layers of our skin and it’s especially important to keep our kids sensitive skin protected.
Many parents I know stock up on sunscreen during the summer months and while you do need it more often in the summer, I find it’s also is a good idea to use it all year long.
Sunburns occur more often during a partially cloudy day and the winter months – this is generally because our skin is not adequately protected. With skin cancer so prevalent in today’s society, it’s become even more important to teach our youngsters about good skincare. I’ve found it’s helpful to have them help you put on your own sunscreen - slathering Daddy in lots of cream is always a fun game for my kids - and it gave me the opportunity to discuss why it’s so important, although they are still yet to understand the importance of even coverage!
3. Moisturize Often
Locking moisture into the skin is important to keep it hydrated and promote healthy skin. I always apply a body moisturizer to my kids just after a bath to lock in the benefits of the bath. I’ve made this a part of the bathing routine and it’s helped me to teach my children how to take care of their body.
There are other times I’ve found it good to moisturize their skin. For example, during the winter months, after they have been out sledding or playing in the cold is a good time. Warm up the lotion in your hands to combat the effects of chapping from cold, harsh wind.
Have you taken them to a public pool recently? Chlorine can be drying and irritating to their skin. I always get them to take a shower after swimming and moisturize their skin once they are dry too. If you soak in salt pools to avoid chlorine, you will still want them to shower and moisturize. The salt pools are wonderful but are also drying to children’s skin (if not yours).
4. Avoid Powders
There are a lot of studies taking place on the effect of talcum powder on the body and one of the main concerns is that it is carcinogenic to reproductive organs. Many parents with cancer in their family history avoid talcum powder for that very reason. However, there are also other concerns regarding skin health and the use of talc.
Powders are very drying and can clog pores, which can lead to the development of irritated and dry skin. Many children can develop irritated skin or even “acne” at a young age. I don’t have talc in our house as I don’t want to risk my children breathing it in as it can cause lung irritation as well as going everywhere and causing a big old mess in the bathroom. I always find lotions and topical creams to be a much better option for optimal skin health.
5. Don’t Forget Their Lips
My children will often develop chapped lips in the winter from licking their lips too often because they feel dry. I asked my pediatrician for recommendations on lip balm to avoid products with dyes and perfumes. Applying a little lip balm before going outside can help their little lips stay moisturized and not succumb to the weather. During the summer, it is also important to provide protection on their lips from UV rays so they don’t burn.
Taking care of my children’s skin is now part of my daily routine but what I’ve found most valuable is for them to see me taking good care of my own skin, involving them, not making it a chore and gently educating them on the importance of a good skincare regime so that it becomes something they naturally do every day and forms part of their own routine.