Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

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What is the difference between a sun cream for children and a conventional one?

What is the difference between a sun cream for children and a conventional one?

The label "children" is increasingly visible on sun protection products, indicating that they are intended for a specific category of individuals. However, is there a difference between these sun care products with specific labelling for children compared to general sun protection products?

The specificities of a child's skin.

Skin structures continue to evolve even after birth. During the first year of life, it has been demonstrated that an infant's skin is in a state of active development. It is only from the age of 6 that a child's skin reaches its full maturity and becomes similar to that of an adult. Differences in the skin physiology of infants and young children and that of adults then persist.

Sensitive and fragile, this is how a child's skin is described in comparison to an adult's. Although it has the same number of layers, the stratum corneum, the top layer of the epidermis that actively protects us from environmental influences and retains moisture, is 30% thinner than that of an adult and the epidermis is 20% thinner. Similarly, the corneocytes of infants are 20% smaller than those of adults, indicating a faster cellular renewal in babies.

Furthermore, the sebaceous and sweat glands are less active. The hydrolipidic film and the acid mantle are therefore relatively fragile, thus limiting their barrier function. The low pigmentation also increases this sensitivity. Indeed, the phenomenon of melanin synthesis , which is responsible for skin pigmentation, is not fully developed in children. Up to the age of 3, children's skin has a lower concentration of melanin.

Consequently, the skin of infants and young children is particularly sensitive to ultraviolet rays, and the protective barrier remains immature. This allows UV rays to penetrate more deeply and easily reach the dermal papillae and dermal capillaries, resulting in photodamage.

Differences between a children's sunscreen and an adult's sunscreen?

On the market, it is common to spot sun care products labelled as "special child". However, sun creams for children offer no added value. There is nothing that differentiates sun creams stamped "children" from "non-children". The sun protection provided is almost identical between the "child" version and the "general public" version. Sun protection products specifically intended for children have the same sun filters as those for adults. Minute differences in the composition of the products may exist, excluding UV filters.

Which sun care product should be chosen to protect children's skin from the sun?

It is recommended to opt for sunscreens containing the least amount of allergenic UV filters. Indeed, certain sunscreens, such as oxybenzone (INCI: Benzophenone-3), ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (INCI: Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate) or octocrylene, are the most common causes of allergic reactions. Furthermore, also avoid sun products containing potentially irritating and allergenic ingredients such as fragrant molecules or essential oils.

Note : Young children, particularly infants, can absorb a larger proportion of substances applied topically than adults, and are not able to metabolise and excrete absorbed substances effectively. As a result, children are therefore more exposed to the risks of allergies than adults. This is why it is recommended to avoid chemical filters and only use mineral filters on the delicate skin of young children under 2 years old.

What measures should be taken to protect the young skin of children from the sun?

Studies suggest that sunburn and UV damage incurred during childhood almost double the risk of developing skin melanoma in adulthood. Consequently, measures are necessary to limit the impact of solar UV rays and to adequately protect children's skin.

  1. Avoid exposing infants under 6 months of age to direct sunlight;

  2. Keep children in the shade as much as possible and protected from the sun during the hours when UV rays are most intense, which is between 11am and 3pm;

  3. Cover the child's exposed body areas with light, tightly woven protective clothing, especially under 3 years of age;

  4. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade the face and neck;

  5. Equip the child with a pair of sunglasses that have lenses capable of absorbing UV rays;

  6. Avoid applying sunscreen on infants under 6 months of age;

  7. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher, to areas of the skin not covered by protective clothing;

  8. For children under 2 years old, choose a sunscreen that contains only mineral filters (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide), which are less irritating to the sensitive skin of babies.


  • WIEGAND B. C. & al. Infant skin microstructure assessed in vivo differs from adult skin in organization and at the cellular level. Pediatric Dermatology (2010).

  • BALK S. J. Technical report - Ultraviolet radiation: a hazard to children and adolescents. American Academy of Pediatrics (2011).

  • STAMATAS G. N. & al. New insights about infant and toddler skin: implications for sun protection. Pediatrics (2015).

  • BUSTER K. & al. Photoprotection in specific populations: Children and people of color. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (2016).

  • RIGEL D. S. & al. Patient knowledge of FDA-mandated sunscreen labeling terminology: a cross-sectional survey. PhotodermatologyPhotoimmunology & Photomedicine (2018).

  • SIRITHANABADEEKUL P. & al. Ultraviolet filters in sunscreen products labeled for use in children and for sensitive skin. Pediatric Dermatology (2020).


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