Lucy at the beach

How To Apply Sunscreen To Your Kids

I’ll never forget the first time we took Amelia to the beach. We were so excited and I slathered her up in sunscreen. After five minutes of getting there, she had so much sand stuck to her, she looked like a sculpture, then she yawned and rubbed her eyes which got them filled with sunscreen and sand. She was crying so badly we had to take her home to get her all cleaned and calmed down. Since then, I’ve learned a lot. And, the recent Australian study which showed that regular use of sunscreen can reduce the rate of photoaging—the visible signs cause by ultraviolet rays, like wrinkles and sunspots—by about 25% should have every single parent on top of their kids’ sun care routine. Not to mention preventing skin cancer. Here are some tips:

1. Set a good example. Practice what you preach. Apply sunscreen daily, making sure that your kids notice. Just observing you applying sunscreen will drive home the point that everyone has to wear SPF, just like brushing teeth. Read: How To Wear Sunscreen So That It Really Works.

2. Apply it at least 15 minutes before walking out the door. It takes that long for sunscreen to become active. Plus, if you give it some time to settle in, it won’t feel as sticky when they are out and about.

3. Different formulas are better for different times of the day.  I like to use a lotion in the morning and apply it before they even get dressed or in their bathing suits. Then, I find that it’s easier to use a spray sunscreen to reapply during the day. Just be careful if it’s windy because the sunscreen can be blown away before it even reaches your child’s body. You should reapply every two hours.

4. Use a stick sunscreens on the face. They don’t drip and won’t get in their eyes. I have stick sunscreens stashed everywhere—diaper bag, beach bag, the car, etc.

5. Don’t forget the scalp! The part line is one of the most hard hit areas by damaging UVA / UVB rays, yet often left uncovered if your child isn’t wearing a hat. Use a sunscreen spray to lightly mist any areas where you can see the scalp. (You might want to tell your husband to do this too!)

6. Be careful on the hands. I know you’re supposed to have every inch covered, but if you have very young children who still rub their eyes a lot when they’re tired, then go lightly!

7. Buy swimwear that has built-in sun protection. Look for swimsuits that have sun protection within the fabric. Swim t-shirts that cover the shoulders are ideal. And don’t forget hats and sunglasses.

8. Not going to the beach? They still need to do all of the above!

Here are a few of my favorite family friendly sunscreens:


1. This supersize pump of Supergoop! Everyday Face & Body Lotion With Parsol 1789 Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $48, is ideal for the whole family. Put one the bathroom and one in the beach bag, then there’s plenty everywhere for everyone to slather up.

2. Yes To Cucumbers Natural Sunscreen SPF 40 Kids, $15, is one of the most affordable all natural sunscreens and smells great too!

3. Neutrogena Beach Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $8, helps repel water and sand from sticking to your skin—genius!

4. Water Babies UVA/UVB Sunblock Stick SPF 30, $4, is an oldie but goldie.

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