Mothers in UAE find choosing sunscreen is a conundrum

Particularly with newborns, Dubai mums think it’s safest to keep children indoors most of the time during the summer heat

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 16, 2017:    Isabella Spong, a seven-month-old British expatriate, in the community pool near her families flat in the Remraam area of Dubai on August 16, 2017. Isabella's mother Christina uses long swimming costumes and shaded areas instead of sun cream to protect her from the sun. Scientists in Russia have found a link between swimming pool chlorine and sunlight reacting with sunscreens that can turn them toxic. Christopher Pike / The National

Reporter: Nick Webster
Section: News
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With year-round sunshine, the UAE can be the perfect place for children to grow up, with swimming pools and play parks in abundance.

However, many first-time mothers have to come to grips with how to best keep their children safe in the intense summer sun.

British mother Christina Spong, who has a seven-month old baby, Isabella, tries to use sunscreens with natural products but said they can be expensive.

“It is difficult to take my daughter out at certain times of the day as it may not always tie in with when she needs to sleep, but I always make sure she is covered up if we are out in the sun,” she said.

“She wears a full-length swimming costume in the pool, as I was told up to the age of six months we shouldn’t put her in sunscreen and keep her out of the sun.

“That was UK NHS guidelines but it can be difficult in Dubai when it is sunny most of the time.

“I have used suncream but I’m not sure what it contains. I bought a French brand after guidance from a pharmacist, who advised it was the best one for babies, but it was expensive.

“I try to use natural products as much as possible but they usually cost more.”

British expat Rhiannon Downie-Hurst, 36, who lives in Arabian Ranches, Dubai, has a six-month old boy, Kai.


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“Like many other parents, I’ve avoided using sunscreen up to now on medical advice,” she said.

“I try to keep him out of the sun, and generally cover him up with hat and only take him swimming early morning or later in the evening.

“I’m just beginning to do some research now on what is the most suitable sunscreen to use on him, so I’ll be looking at the ingredients closely to see if there are any natural products out there I can use.

“I don’t feel comfortable putting it all over his body yet. He is too delicate to go outside in this heat, so we have been living indoors during summer.”