Kids and sun protection
I am absolutely paranoid about the sun and my kids. Whenever it comes to outside play or going to the beach, I am meticulous when it comes to sun protection.
I think it all stems from my childhood, actually, more likely my teenage years.
I played sports every weekend and also spent three weeks at the beach each year on summer holidays. I neglected my skin and usually only applied sunscreen once. Back then there was only 15+ sunscreen and you had to reapply every couple of hours. The message surrounding sun safety just wasn’t as big back then.
I also remember my first car, a 1986 Toyota Corolla. It had no air conditioning or tinted windows and so I drove everywhere with my window down.
The result of exposure to the sun while driving is obvious. The right side of my face is covered in freckles and a few moles. When I have photos taken I always prefer to be photographed on my better ‘left’ side. You can also see the sun damage on my chest where the v-neck from my softball shirt exposed my skin to the sun.
I look at my childrens gorgeous milky white and untouched skin and I want to protect it as much as I can and thought I’d share some items that we use or that I’m going to start using this summer.
Sun Shirt/Rashie/Wet Shirt/Rash Vest
I honestly don’t think there’s ever been a time when Master E has gone swimming without one of these on. To me, it’s peace of mind, that his torso and arms are protected and I don’t have to worry about reapplying sunscreen to the areas covered by the sun shirt.
But, I’ve also found that all sun shirts are not made equal. We’ve been through a few and I’ve found there are ones that get thin quite quickly and therefore do not offer superior protection.
When selecting sun shirts, Sunsmart recommends considering the following:
Fabric structure – If the fabric is tight, whether it’s knitted or woven fabric, it will provide better sun protection because less UV radiation can pass through to the skin. The tighter the fabric structure, whether knitted or woven, the better the sun protection. As the fibres of tightly woven fabrics are closer together, less UV radiation is able to pass through to the skin. Tightly woven, lightweight natural fabrics such as linen, cotton or hemp will also help keep you cooler than synthetic fibre equivalents.
Tension – The more a fabric is stretched, the less protection it offers. Make sure you select the correct size.
Colour – Darker colours tend to absorb more UV radiation than lighter colours so try to select darker colours where possible.
Caring for your clothes – Try to purchase sun shirt’s that offer a high-quality and thick material. Higher quality material will wash well and will maintain its integrity even when worn in chlorine. Sun shirts that become worn and stretched over time will not provide as much protection.
UV absorbers – Purchase a sun shirt that has been treated so it can absorb more UV radiation. This should be indicated on the clothing label.
Plum Collections sent us a cute Sailor Sun Shirt as worn by Master E. Not only was it a really cute anchor design which Master E liked to call his ‘hook shirt’, it offers great fabric structure and is nice and thick. The shirt is also chlorine resistant and offers 50+ UV protection. I’ve washed it a number of times and have been really happy with it after washing. Other brands of sun shirt have started to pill and stretch after a few washes where this one from Plum Collections still looks like new.
We simply do not spend any time outdoors without wearing a hat. These days the ‘cap’ is usually Master E’s first choice, but my preference, if I can help it, is always a wide brimmed hat or a swim cap with material that protects the neck. When Elliott was younger I always made sure he wore a wide brimmed with a cord that could be tightened so it wouldn’t fly off his head.
Plum Collections also have a great range of kids sun hats with wide brims, cords and material offering 50+ UV protection.
It’s easy to think that SPF 50+ sunscreen offers a much larger amount of protection than SPF 30+ sunscreen but, in fact, SPF 50+ only offers marginally better protection from Ultra Violet B (UVB) radiation than SPF30+. The Cancer Council states that where SPF50+ filters out 98% of UVB radiation SPF30+ isn’t far behind with 96.7% UVB rays blocked. The same amount of either sunscreen should be applied. Just because it’s SPF 50+ doesn’t mean you need to apply it less often.
One huge mistake I see people make when it comes to sunscreen is applying it right before going into the water. Doing this means it will wash straight off and provide little to no protection.
It’s always best to apply water-resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before going in the water or outdoors and set a timer or reminder to reapply in two hours.
One thing that I’ve come to learn with a baby lately is that not all sunscreens are safe for infants younger than six months. The Australasian College of Dermatologists have indicated that babies of this age actually absorb more of any chemical applied to the skin that adults and so it’s best to look for a brand that offers a baby cream that is gentler on the skin and offer the same protection as other sunscreens.
After having a look at the labels of a number of children’s sunscreens, I found very few suitable for babies. The one I did find and use is Kids Sunscreen by The Cancer Council but try to keep Miss M out of the sun to avoid the use of sunscreen at her young age. I would recommend also testing a small amount on baby’s skin before applying it to the whole body.
If you’re concerned about the chemical content of sunscreens, Master E’s kindgergarten love Wot Not sunscreen which does not contain artificial preservatives, sulphates, petrochemicals, parabens and fragrances.
Whenever I think of Zinc, I think of cricket players. They’re out in the summer sun for so long, sweat pouring down their faces, so of course zinc would provide a much thicker layer than sunscreen.
We don’t use Zinc but I’m considering introducing it this summer. Zinc is strong and it won’t easily wash off like sunscreen.
The Cancer Council have a Zinc Stick Range with White or just for a bit of fun, Green, White and Gold.
When it comes to sun protection, we immediately think of our skin. But eyes need sun protection too and as parents, we can often think about our own eyes when putting on our sunglasses, but not our childrens.
I’ll be first to admit that I don’t pay enough consideration to Master E’s eye protection although he does have sunglasses. It can be a challenge to get him to wear them and if he does wear them, they don’t stay on for long.
From my experience, we probably should have encouraged the wearing of sunglasses at a much younger aged so Master E became used to wearing sunglasses. Now, he thinks they’re cool, but for a duration of only 5 minutes and often when they’re worn upside down.
Be careful. It’s not just any kids sunglasses that will provide the best protection and most certainly not the cheap ones you get in a showbag or in the toy isle.
When purchasing kids sunglasses ensure that:
- They fit close to the face and offer a wrap-around style that cover the eyes as much as possible
- They are labelled as meeting the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 (Sunglasses and fashion spectacles: sunglasses category 2,3 or 4)
- They have elastic that help the sunglasses stay in place.
Do you have any favourite brands when it comes to kids and sun protection?
Disclosure: I was gifted the Sailor Sun Shirt for the purpose of providing an honest review. You can find futher details of my dislosure policy here.