We dread them, we hate them, we get thrown off our game when they happen.…
When I was growing up there was no such thing as sunscreen. There was only suntan lotion. You were supposed to put it on and then lie in the sun for hours.
No one thought at all about sun protection.
I loved it when my parents drove us to the beach. It was a major outing and a huge treat. We’d stay, and play, for endless hours.
But… I was a redhead with very fair freckled skin.
By the time we left the beach, I was beet red. By the time we got home, I was in excruciating pain. Sunburn really hurts.
My clothes hurt. My bed hurt… everything hurt.
And then, three or four days later when it stopped hurting, my skin would start to peel. At the time, it was a bit of a badge of honour and a source of great fascination. But really, my skin was peeling off because it was BURNED.
We’re not supposed to get burned.
For those of us who live where the winters are long – when summer comes we just want to be outside – and so we should be.
Hot and sunny – just what we love in the summer.
But it’s super important to protect both you and your children from harmful UV rays and painful sunburns. (We’ve become way more sun smart since I was a little freckled red headed kid)
We’ve learned when it’s good for us to be out in it (it’s a great source of vitamin D), and when we need to protect ourselves from it.
For example, a UV index of 8 is officially “very high”. And the higher the UV index, the stronger the sun’s rays are and the quicker you get burned.
As the Environment Canada’s website says:
What happens when the index is 8 or more?
Look out! Some people get sunburned in only 15 minutes.
So with the thinning ozone layer and the higher penetration of UV rays, here are some basic guidelines to be smart about sun protection:
- If you want your children to get their vitamin D from the sun, let them be out in it in the early morning or late afternoon without sun protection for about 15 minutes to half an hour max. Running around with bare, unprotected skin, in the heat of the midday sun, just isn’t good for them.
- Babies under six months have very sensitive skin and burn very easily. Babies should be kept out of the full sun as much as possible.
- Sun Protection is much more than sunscreen. Physical barriers offer the best protection and peace of mind. Physical barriers include: Sunsuits, sunshirts, sunhats , sunglasses, sun protective water shoes, stroller sun protectors, car seat sun protectors, and suntents
- Older babies and toddlers often resist sun hats and sunglasses. Get your babies used to wearing them when are very little, so it just becomes routine for going outside.
- Be insistent and persistent about your children wearing sunhats with broad brims, and UVA and UVB protective sunglasses.
- If you, and older siblings in the family, wear sunhats and sunglasses, babies and toddlers are more likely to agree to wear them as well.
- For the areas you can’t physically cover, use the safest, chemical free sunscreens available that use zinc or titanium dioxide. These offer a physical barrier and aren’t absorbed into the skin.
- Be aware that some of the most popular sunscreens are actually very toxic, According to the Environmental Working Group these are the 11 worst sunscreens for kids:
11 Worst Sunscreens for Kids
These terrible kid and baby sunscreens have at least three strikes against them: 1) oxybenzone, 2) retinyl palmitate and 3) SPFs above 50+. Two have a fourth strike: they’re aerosol sprays that can harm sensitive young lungs. Convenient? Yes. Good for kids? Absolutely not.
Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Kids Max Protect & Play Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Kroger Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Kroger Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunblock Spray, SPF 70+
Up & Up Kid’s Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55”
To see the full report click here
It’s probably shocking to see some of the most popular brands listed as the most toxic, but that’s the reality. And just because a sunscreen says “natural” it doesn’t mean it’s safe for children.
Learn more about the dangers of chemical-based sunscreens here.
Remember that children and some adults burn very quickly and childhood sun damage can have lifelong health repercussions.
Summer is wonderful, and the sun is wonderful.
And being sun smart is super wonderful! It allows you and your family to have a safe, relaxed, and wonderful time in the beautiful outdoors
PS: I was just checking tomorrow’s weather forecast because I want to go for a quick paddle on the lake before I go in to work. I’ll be wearing my Sunday Afternoons Hat, my NoZone Shirt, my ThinkBaby sunscreen, and I’ll have a lovely paddle on the lake!