How to Keep Your Young Child Sun Protected
I know the struggle is real when it comes to keep our little ones protected from the sun. I have an under 2 year old daughter who oddly doesn’t want to keep her fashionable hat on or stay in the shade. Trying to apply sunscreen to a wriggly, constantly moving toddler who loves to say, “nope” while running gleefully away? It’s tough to say the least.
I know that we do not offer sunscreens marketed as ones’ for kids. Our 50 ml size and price make it prohibitive for many families to apply our Sun Whips on their children to their entire bodies. We’ve heard your requests for larger sizes and it’s definitely on our radar! We’re still a relatively small company but we are working on finding a way to make larger volumes so that pricing and seasonality of a larger format sunscreen will work.
In the meantime, there are some kid friendly zinc oxide sunscreens that you can use on your kids. The EWG Annual Sunscreen Guide is out with great recommendations (including our two Sun Whips featured again with the best safety rating of 1). Just remember, the higher the % of zinc oxide, the better (at least until we get better access to other filters in North America). Here are some additional tried and tested tips for keeping your kids sun safe this sunny season.
1. Ditch the sprays
Have you seen the recent controversy for Banana Boat Kids Free Clear spray sunscreen SPF 50+? Here in Canada, at least two young children have reported 2nd degree burns after sun exposure and using these specific sunscreens. For my take on these specific cases, click here. In general though, I say ditch the sprays, especially for young kids. You have no way of knowing that you are applying sufficient amounts and providing even coverage. There is some concern re: inhalation. I definitely advocate for avoiding sunscreens that contain alcohol as their main solvent in addition to my usual complaint against oxybenzone and other potential endocrine disruptors.
2. Thicker sunscreens for kids is ok
I know no kid wants to walk around looking like Caspar the ghost. There are transparent sunscreens to be had like our formulas, I’ve tried ThinkBaby before and thought it was quite good. For kids and for your body, it actually pays to use a formula that is slightly thicker and maybe even slightly whitening since you can see where you’ve applied it. This is true for those hot beach days where you know that if you miss a spot, your kid will most likely burn there. To be honest, I recently tried applying to my daughter one of our super light weight prototype formulas that essentially disappears on the skin seconds after you apply it. It felt great but with her twisting and turning, I had a hard time being sure I didn’t miss a spot. Our Simply Zinc, while completely transparent and matte, takes about 30 seconds to feel as though it’s absorbed on the skin. I applied it thickly on my daughter while on holiday and I had a good sense of where I was putting it.
3. Make the 1st application the best, and do it naked.
I always recommend putting your sunscreen on every single day, first thing in the morning. Hence why the “Every Morning’ in our Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25. For those hot summer days where you have more exposed skin and more intense UVB, make your first application the best one. To this end, it’s best to apply it naked. Apply it from tip to toe and you know that you will avoid the nasty tan line or tan burn when trying to apply while having clothes on. If you get a good first coat of sunscreen, especially when its tenacious zinc oxide based, you can get away with less precise re-application because let’s face it- you’re more likely to be on the move.
I know you’re saying at this point, “I thought this lady had a kid?” I know the squirmy creature you call your child probably does not want to sit naked while you apply copious amounts of sunscreen on. I quickly discovered the magic of distraction. For us, we limit tv time for our daughter so she is pretty mesmerized by it when she gets to watch it. Hence, we plonked her down with her favourite cartoon and we had free reign to apply as much sunscreen as we needed as long as we did not block her view. Find your magic distraction technique and use it without guilt because keeping our kids sun protected is a great gift.
5. Sun protection clothes
I saw a lot of kids sporting sun protective clothing this past holiday. It’s a life saver! There are lots of options, and some of them are really cute. It just provides a fail-safe when you are facing heavy exposure. Just remember to apply sunscreen first while naked and then put on clothes after so that if you switch outfits, you know you’re still covered 100%!
Finally, keep in mind the usual recommendations- seek shade, limit time in the peak sun from 12-3 pm, try for hats and sunglasses (it helps if you’re rocking these too to set a good example). Keeping our kids protected from the sun is just another way that parenting can be hard- but it’s worth it. You’re saving their skin so do your best! Feel free to share any tips you might have.