It’s officially the time of year when parents struggle to smear their children with various lotions and sprays, all very much against the will of the children themselves. For their part, the kids complain bitterly about sunscreen application (how bad can it really be?) and react to mosquito bites without an ounce of reasonable proportion.
Fun or no, sun protection is a must. I had my first basal cell removed when I was 30. Skin cancer is serious, people, and having spots cut out of you hurts and leaves scars. Whether you’re a fair-skinned burner like me, or easily tan to golden brown, the sun is not your skin’s friend.
My kids have never had a sunburn, despite both being fair and spending summer days primarily not allowed indoors. I take sun protection seriously.
Quick tips for protecting your family from the sun:
- Hats – have plans for a day at the beach or a shade-starved park? Everyone wears a hat, in addition to sunscreen. (At the beach or pool? Swim shirts are a must. – the less skin showing, the less struggling with wriggly kids you have to endure.)
- Do you really need sunscreen today? It’s sort of cloudy, after all. Here’s a tip I learned after a developing a blistering burn on a cloudy day – if you squint looking at the sky, then you need sunscreen!
- Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, more often if sweating or playing in water.
- Size matters. A little dab will not do ya when it comes to sunscreen. To achieve the SPF protection listed on the bottle, you need to apply about a golf ball sized blob to your (average adult) body. (Good thing kids are smaller!)
- Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect your family from both UVA and UVB rays with SPF of 15 or higher.
There are so many different types of sunscreen out there, which is good, because I’ve found that it takes an arsenal. It is not a one-size-fits-all product. I have a variety at home, keep a few in my car and purse, and bring at least 3 with me to the beach. Here’s what I keep in my sunscreen arsenal:
- For my sensitive skinned child I find that the physical barrier sunscreens (those that contain Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide) work better than the chemical based sunscreens. The only downside with these is that they are more difficult to rub in and can make your kids look like Casper.
- For my hard to catch child I use a high SPF (30+), sweatproof, waterproof sports sunscreen. These blend in easily and I can usually cover him before he decides that standing still for me is optional.
- Generally I prefer lotions over sprays, but sprays have their place too. They are perfect for quick touch ups for hard to reach places like feet in sandals (and my own back).
- A day at the pool or beach means reapplications to wet skin. Thankfully, they’ve developed sunscreens that actually go on wet kids. These are a must have!
- One of the best things I’ve found is sunscreen/bug repellant combos. You can even find some lotions that offer a physical sunscreen in addition to deet free bug protection. Do they smell delicious? No, but they work!
- When my kids are at camp they each carry a small bottle of easily rubbed-in sunscreen. Turns out, they don’t mind doing it so long as it’s fast and they don’t turn white. (They will lose these, so don’t send them with your large bottle of expensive lotion. Invest in a few travel sized ones instead.)
Sunscreen application is not the highlight of anyone’s summer, but it’s non-negotiable. Considering my kids’ reaction to mosquito bites and splinters, I’d like to avoid dealing with sunburn forever if possible.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by CHPA which has provided me compensation to write about the safe and appropriate use of OTCs. All content, views, and opinions are my own.
For more sun smart tips check out: http://www.knowyourotcs.org/