Remember that song? (Oooh, don't you feel old now? I do.)
Well, before the Olympics and Chik-Fil-A took over my Facebook newsfeed, the "hot topic" of moms was sun protection.
Nobody likes a sun burn, but infinitely worse is a sun-burned baby.
Everybody likes a hot topic, though, and parabens are vying for attention. Or at least they were until the chickens invaded. (Sorry I'm a bit late on the hot topic. I usually am.)
I support team USA and won't tell you whether or not eating chicken is immoral, but here is my two cents on sun protection:
Use common sense, people.
First be sun smart. You can protect yourself from the sun in many ways before you even touch a bottle of sunscreen.
- Eat healthy, protective foods. Foods rich with antioxidants and vitamins C & E help protect your skin from UV rays and may be able to undo some of the damage already done. Spinach salad with strawberries and walnuts on top, anyone? (Or melons, tomatoes, broccoli, almonds, sunflower seeds, kale, blueberries... and you get bonus points if you find them at a local farmstand!)
- Wear protective clothing. Sure, it is hot out and you may want to run through the streets naked for a moment's relief, but not all those sun-guard clothes are as hot as they look. The darker the color of clothing, the better protected you will be. Or get yourself some UPF clothing, like these shirts for kiddos. RIT even came out with a UV wash, so you can add UPF to your favorite summer duds.
- Wear a hat. The. Best. Hats. Ever. are made by iPlay. They are floppy and grow with your child, tie on if you like, come in all sorts of fashionable colors and designs, and are usually less than $15. V. still fits in her 6-18m hat (with room to grow) and we bought a Toddler (2-4 years) hat because
I couldn't resist the purpleso we'd have a back-up. She wears them year-round and will likely fit in both next summer, too.
- Seek shade! My child would run around regardless if she were in the scorching sun or under a canopy of leaves and be none the wiser. In the summer, I seek out playgrounds with sun shades, visit parks with plenty of trees, or go to our zoo, which was wise and kind enough to keep trees shading the pathways. Find local spots that give you fresh air without the rays. Or, bring a canopy along (as small as one for the stroller, or as big as one for the beach) and make your own shade.
Now you want to put on sunscreen... What to do?
People often don't put enough sun screen on, and that is when you get burned. (Sunblock and sunscreen will prevent UV rays from doing as much damage as they would without, but won't prevent a tan.) Oh, and don't put sunscreen on your child if they are under 6 months old. Please.
- Put sunscreen on any exposed skin at least 15 minutes before heading outside, to give it time to set in. (My floors are spectacularly clean, given that I've let my unpottytrained toddler run around the house naked for those 15 minutes.)
- Choose a sunscreen that says "broad spectrum" or specifies that it protects against UVA AND UVB rays.
- And make sure it is at least SPF 30.
- If you will be going in the water, playing in puddles, anything with water, choose something that is water resistant. Most are up to 40 minutes, some up to 80. Know how long, because after that, you aren't protected.
- Reapply sunscreen every few hours and after toweling off or getting out of water. It can't protect you if it isn't there.
Now, back to the parabens and the UV Rays.
For those that didn't click on the above link, the debate is that parabens are theorized to mock estrogen. Although there is no strong evidence for this, there isn't any against it, either, and we can't tell the effect these things will have in 20, 30, 50 years.
So avoid it if you can.
But, like us, you are probably realizing that unless you have money to burn, you aren't going to be slathering your toddler in California Baby every 30 minutes and still hope to have a college savings fund. If a 3 oz. tube of that liquid gold lasts you a day at the beach, you probably aren't putting on enough anyway.
There's also the issue of sacrificing UV protection for organic. On one board, it was posited as "Do you want skin cancer or uterine cancer?"
(I don't think it is that extreme, people.)
I'm not going to tell you what to do, as only you know what is best for your child. (Heck. I don't know what is best, either.) I will tell you what we do.
First, we put lotion on V. in the morning, and when I remember at night. (Check for parabens in your lotion, too.) The drier your skin, the more of anything it will absorb, so if you don't want it absorbing chemicals, hydrate it inside and out. (Drink water, people!)
On days we won't be in the water, if we are going to be in the sun for only a few minutes over the course of a few hours, or if it is getting later in the day, we use the organic stuff. It is mostly zinc, and Badger makes some really awesome sunblock with lemongrass that keeps the bugs away. (California Baby makes a "summer blend" with the same lemongrass-y scent, but it costs twice as much. I'm frugal and I want my child to not worry about student debt, like her mother does.)
If we are going into the pool, water, going to need it frequently, I use good ol' Coppertone. Bonus, they make a foam. Better than the spray, and it completely distracts my kid from the "Do anything to prevent the sunblock!" game. We still put organic stuff on her face and the backs of her hands because she rubs her eyes. Either way it is going to sting, but at least the organic stuff isn't chemical-laden. I've had several suspicious moles removed from my body, and so I'd rather take a slight risk and expose my child to parabens occasionally if it means sparing her the much more certain scare of skin cancer.
Summer is winding down (is it? Does it feel like it has been summer forever to anyone else?) but this is good knowledge year-round.
Find what works for you, be smart about it, and when all else fails, use Baby Ease. (I've done it in a pinch. At 30%, it has more zinc than most sunblocks, is all-natural, and is great for all that ails you... it is my Windex.)
Legal (don't hate on me) stuff, I guess - I wasn't paid by any of these companies, sadly, to review/promote/destroy/consume their products. I don't have a medical degree, chemistry degree, nor can I see into the future. These are simply my ramblings about the common sense I used in hopes to inform or inspire, do if you don't like it, don't read it. Also, I don't promote Windex as a cure-all. In fact, I don't recommend using Windex at all. Use vinegar - it works just as well, and without all the chemicals. It may not be important to you, but you may not have a toddler who sticks their mouth on every blessed surface in your house, windows included. Windows especially. After all, we need to smash our face against the windows to give Daddy kisses when he walks through the back gate. And have an amazing day!