Oh, the joy of trying to apply sunscreen to your littles. I get it— it’s hard chasing them around to try to smear SPF on their little bodies. Here are some tips that worked for me. Hopefully, they’ll help you too.
Creating a Routine
First and foremost, you must practice what you teach. Set a good example by making sunscreen part of your family’s daily routine. The earlier you make using SPF a ritual, the easier it will be as your child ages. You and your children are exposed to UVA and blue light rays even when you are indoors. So beginning your day by applying SPF to your face, neck, and ears is a great place to start. When you are headed outdoors, start early. SPF takes about 15 minutes to soak in, plus when you are trying to squeeze a sunscreen application in at the last minute, everyone gets stressed.
Teach them how to apply sunscreen. For example, if you purchase a spray-on sunscreen (not my number one choice because it’s hard to “see” if you have the correct amount for full coverage), they need to understand that it must be rubbed in. For lotion SPF, teach them the correct quantity – show them, so they have a visual. What kid doesn’t love to use measuring spoons?
When my kids were little, I found that the biggest challenge was trying to apply sunscreen. Kids are fast, and they don’t like the way it feels. Here are some ways to make SPF application fun.
- Use a makeup brush to apply the sunscreen – it feels luxurious.
- Paint their face with designs before you massage in – a little heart, star, or kitty cat whiskers can go a long way.
- Apply in the mirror so they can see.
- This shouldn’t be the last thing you do before you leave the house. Apply sunscreen after brushing your teeth, so it becomes part of their routine.
- Let them choose the body part to apply first.
Explaining WHY To Kids
Did you know that even a single blistering sunburn doubles your chance of developing skin cancer? Yes, DOUBLES the risk; the more you burn, the greater your risk of developing skin cancer. When explaining why sunscreen is important, keep it simple, not scary. Let your children know that sunburns hurt and focus on the short-term impact, not something that in their minds won’t impact them until they are “old.”
When discussing with teens, share the impact UV damage has on aging. If they want to maintain a youthful glow, sunscreen is the way to go. It is hands down my number one secret to great skin. Our children aren’t with us all the time; they are off at school, camps, and sports. Be sure that each child has their own sunscreen in their bag so when they are out and about, they can protect themselves. SPF should be reapplied every 90-minutes, which can be hard for a child to track. There are new products on the market that you apply as stickers, and they monitor your UV exposure and help as a visual reminder to reapply.
When selecting sunscreen, look for a broad-spectrum, protecting you from both UVA and UVB. Choose a physical sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide whenever possible, especially for the face and sensitive areas. For more details, read “4 Things to Look for When Selecting Sunscreen.”
My favorite on-the-go solution is the ColoreScience Brush-On sunscreen SPF 50. In just three passes, you have full protection without your children running away from you, leaving you with sunscreen on your hands. They also love to participate in the application, the brush feels great, and it makes them feel like a grown-up. This product is safe to use on children 6-months and older!
Other Sunscreen Tips
- Use clothing with UV protection.
- Everyone should have a hat.
- Sunglasses to protect your eyes
- Find shady play areas.
- Get ready early when headed outdoors. Sunscreen needs about 15 minutes to work its magic.
- Be prepared. Keep sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses in your out-and-about bag.
- Pack it! And have a bottle of sunscreen for each child. It should be in their bag.
- Long hair? Pull it back first. It feels terrible to get sunscreen in your hair or hair stuck to your face.
- Don’t just apply it to them. They need to be active participants so that when they are off at camp or school, they know how to reapply.
Hopefully, this makes your day just a little bit easier! For more sunscreen tips, check out our article on “8 Sunscreen Tips to Wear it Well.“