When I think of summer, I think of watermelon, playing outside until the sun goes down, bare feet, the beach and the smell of sunscreen. It’s a wonderful season that we usually look forward to, and reflect on all year long. While most images of summer are happy, as parents we also have to see the importance of protecting our family as we spend long hours outside enjoying the weather. The month of May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time of year because we are ready to head into the hot days of summer. Every year, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the U.S., and a shocking 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. The best way to avoid skin cancer, is to prevent it all together. So we’ve gathered up some very important products that will help you keep your family’s skin safe this summer. Some of these are oldies but goodies, while there are some new ideas that will change the way you cover up!
Even though you’d think this is the most obvious, easiest and cheapest way to deflect the sun’s powerful rays, many people still spend long hours in the sun without regularly applying sun screen, or worse: using tanning oil! Men are twice as likely to get sunburned for a lack of sunscreen usage, and a child that gets just a few blistery sunburns doubles their chances of developing some sort of skin cancer in their lifetime. Make sure you are purchasing a broad-spectrum, UVA protecting cream that has at least a 15 SPF. Even if you purchase a 100 SPF cream, it still needs to be reapplied often, as the components break down due to heat, sweating and water. Check out EWG’s website here, where you will see their comprehensive list of over 200 awesome sunscreens, as well as other great info on protection from the sun.
2. Sun Hat
Sun hats provide ultimate protection on the face, neck and ears. The back of the neck and tips of ears are common places that we forget to apply sunscreen to, but no less painful when they get burned. Any hat is better than no hat, but you should look for one that is made of UPF fabric that will reflect harmful rays.
3. Umbrella or Sun Shelter
Every doctor who treats skin cancer will tell you that wearing sunscreen is not enough to ward off the sun’s potent rays. You need to seek coverage in the form of shade in combination with sunscreen and other wearable products. When venturing to the pool or beach, you should always bring some sort of shelter like an umbrella or beach tent. These products can also be made with UPF fabric to provide extra protection. They will not only provide a respite from the sun’s rays, but a great place for a nap as well!
If you don’t feel like spending a lot of money on new garments with built in UPF protection, you can purchase SunGuard, a clothing “dye” that you wash your clothes in. It will immediately change the UPF rating of your clothes to 30 UPF protection! It lasts through several washing, and it’s used in conjunction with your regular laundry detergent. It is safe for all skin types, and doesn’t damage your clothes. In other words, why WOULDN’T you use this product on a daily basis?!
5. Rash Guards
Rash Guards aren’t just for surfers anymore! What was once the epitome of the surfer look, rash guards have taken on a broader audience because of their sun reflecting qualities. They will keep you and your child warm as your venture back and forth between the ocean or pool and protect your delicate skin. Like all the products we’ve been talking about, don’t forget to buy rash guards that offer UPF protection. Clothing is actually the best form of protection from the sun!
Wearing protection for your eyes isn’t just for style, but it serves a purpose too. You are blocking the sun’s rays from your sensitive eyes, as well as the thin skin around them. Not only are you preventing crows feet, but you are reflecting harmful UV rays from affecting your eyes. These types of rays are linked to macular degeneration and cataracts. Make sure you are not just purchasing fashion sunglasses, but those that are clearly marked with their UV protection percentage.
7. Stroller Shade
Sometimes the canopy on your baby stroller isn’t large enough or doesn’t provide the best sun shelter for your baby. You can purchase a stroller shade that offers up to 98% protection from both UVA and UVB rays, like the one pictured above. It attaches to most any type of single stroller and has a broad weave for great air circulation, keeping your baby nice and cool.
8. Baby Sun Blanket
Regular blankets are great protection if the alternative to completely go without. But a baby sun blanket that provides UPF protection is a much better choice. These are perfect for a variety of occasions, not just at the beach or pool.They are also great if you live in a state that is sunny often (hello Florida!) and don’t have tinting on your car windows.