Summer’s Here! Make Kids and Sunscreen a Daily Habit by Dina Ramon

With Memorial Day already here, it’s hard to believe another summer is about to begin. At my daughter’s school, that means Field Day, Beach Day, double recesses and lots of other outdoor activities…in the sun. And time to start reminding myself that she needs sunscreen before we head to the bus stop. Fortunately for me, my daughter was so freaked out by the images of the New Jersey woman with leathery-looking skin who took her 5-year-old to the tanning salon that she actually asks for the sunscreen and applies it herself. Regardless, we can all set a good example by showing our kids how to apply sunscreen and using it ourselves; even 70’s tweens like myself who used QT and Hawaiian Tropic with no SPF whatsoever!

For the past few years I have relied on the annual ‘best and worst’ sunscreen list from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to pick sunscreens for my daughter, my husband, and myself. The EWG is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit and their mission is to protect public health from contaminants and other environmental hazards. The EWG rates dozens of sunscreens and lists ingredients like oxybenzone, a synthetic chemical that can disrupt the body’s natural hormones and cause potential allergic reactions; probably not be the best thing for your kids’ skin. The extensive list of EWG-reviewed sunscreens ranges in price, so it’s possible to find a product with a good rating that’s within your budget. However much you spend, it’s probably one of the best investments you’ll make all summer.

As we should all know by now, it only takes one bad burn to cause serious skin damage that can last a child’s lifetime. The more sun burns a child gets, the greater their risk of developing skin cancers like melanoma later in life, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). But one note of caution as you search for the remainder of last summer’s stockpile: If you’re thinking about using sunscreen that you kept on the shelf all winter, you may find that it doesn’t work so great. My daughter had a mild allergic reaction the other day to the same sunscreen I used on her last summer. I was a little surprised but I guess I shouldn’t have been. Kids can often develop an allergic reaction to something that they tolerated fine before. Sunscreens typically do have an expiration date on them; two out of three in my house do; but if it gives your child a rash you might as well throw it out or use it yourself (as long as you don’t develop a rash!).

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