TUESDAY TIPS

Choosing the best sun protection for your kids

CANOPEA swimwear

CANOPEA swim shirts

During this year of adventure we have enjoyed mostly sunny, warm climates. This was by design, of course, and following the sun meant we didn’t have to burden ourselves or our bags with heavy, winter clothing. The slight downside was that we have spent a year toting around hats, sun shirts and sun cream, rarely going a day without thinking about sun protection. The sun can be very intense in many of the places we visited so protection is not an option – it is a must.

Many people have asked how we’ve dealt with sun protection. Here is a list of our tips and the products we’ve used and discovered this year:

  • Sun shirts (AKA ‘rashies’ or ‘rash guards’): Our first priority with sun protection is to minimise the amount of suncream (sunscreen or sunblock) we use. With few exceptions, it’s just not good for our skin, our environment or our wallets. A great way around slathering suncream all over your kids’ bodies are sun shirts. With these on we only need to apply suncream to our kids’ faces and limbs. Add a good hat, and even their face needs very little.  A few months ago we discovered the eco-friendly UPF50+ sun protection shirts from CANOPEA (featured above). The quality is the best I’ve ever tested — the kids have worn their shirts nearly every day for the past couple months and they still feel and look as good as new. It can be hard to find tastefully designed or logo free sun shirts, so the solid colours from CANOPEA are especially appreciated. I chose a different colour for each of my kids and my eyes have become trained to look for that certain colour when watching the kids in the water: Ivy in red, Marlow in green, etc.  (I also just stumbled across this page on the CANOPEA website about sun protection and think it’s such a brilliant collection of sun facts & history trivia.)
  • Hats: We’ve bought different hats from various places this year and all of them essentially do the trick of keeping sun off faces. I’m partial to our Tilley hats because they can be folded down and packed into suitcases, they have a drawstring to keep the hats in place and they offer excellent sun protection. My little brothers used to wear Tilley hats when they were little, so there’s a certain nostalgia for me too. We also love woven hats. From a farmers market in Australia I picked up a couple African handwoven straw hats (similar to these), which we also love. Michael and Quin have carried their coconut palm hats with them since visiting Brazil in October. These are not so easy to pack but we love that they are made entirely of natural materials.
  • Suncreams (AKA Sunscreen or Sunblock): A big problem with sun creams and blocks is that they are often applied incorrectly and the majority of it washes straight into our oceans, lakes or rivers.  This year we’ve watched people cover themselves from head to toe in the stuff and then jump straight into the sea. Even worse are the aerosols or sprays which when applied outdoors are better at coating the sand and sea than bodies.  When you do put sun creams on your kids or yourself, it should be done well before leaving the house and before anyone is wet or sweaty. This gives the cream enough time to soak in/dry, making it more effective and preventing it from washing off in the ocean five minutes after application.  Applying sunscreen to our faces has become a part of our morning routine this year. We prefer using a stick for faces–these tend to be a thicker, waxier substance that doesn’t drip into their eyes and is easy to apply. Lately we’ve been using this Neutrogena sunscreen stick on faces, which I like because it’s easy for the kids to use on their own. For the body, we use the Sunsense Junior SPF 50+ roll-on stick and it works really well and is also easy for the kids to use. We also like using the organic options when we can find them.  Organic Children sun lotion is one we’ve also used and liked (though find it to be slightly less effective). All that said, if we are going on a hike or doing some activity where good clothing and a hat can be worn, we forego the suncream all together.
  • Zinc: Now that we are a family of surfers, zinc has become a necessity. Easton and Michael can be out on the waves for several hours at a time and normal sunscreens don’t cut it; they need something strong that won’t wash off. We discovered the Surfyogis natural surfscreen zinc when we were in Sri Lanka and it is not only 100% natural but incredibly efficient.
  • Sunscreen for adults: I’ve mentioned before how much I love the Protective Body Lotion from Aesop.  (Michael uses this too, and we even use this on the children as well.) When I was in Sydney a few months ago I discovered the Sage and Zinc hydrating cream (SPF15) and this has become my go-to lotion for my face. What I like about it is that it’s lightweight and hydrating, but thick (somewhat chalky) enough that it doesn’t drip into eyes when your face gets wet. It contains mineral-based Zinc Oxide, which forms a barrier to reflect sunlight without clogging pores, but unlike most zinc solutions, it doesn’t leave a sign of anything on your face. I’ve never found a cream quite like it.

If you have other tips or products you love, please share in the comments section below.

Happy summer!
Courtney x


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Comments (40)

Louise
July 12, 2016

Perfect timing Courtney! We are headed to the South of France soon and I am in the market for a rashie for my daughter. THANK YOU!


Rachel | The Little Pip
July 12, 2016

Totally agree about shirts and hats to reduce need for sun cream. My favourite when required is the Green People kids suncream which works well and is great on my daughters skin and doesn’t aggravate her ezcema.


Anais
July 12, 2016

In France, we often use mineral (zinc-based) sunscreens as soon as they are babies. I’ve tested quite a fe and my favorite by far is the not too thick, not tinted, easy to use Uriage brand creme minerale SPF 50+. It is white of course but lasts the day and gets absorbed so they don’t look like ghosts.


Sarah G
July 12, 2016

All sounds good, my only question is how are they so tanned all over, if they are always so well covered up not letting in the sun? Even with olive tone skins, without sun exposure, they don’t go darker. Your little ones were noticeably paler when you lived in the UK, obviously due to our lack of sun 😉 So don’t quite understand how they can be so perfectly tanned all over, even on their backs, if they are not exposed to the sun for long periods?


Pri
July 12, 2016

I Love the Grahams from Australia. The best I have used so far in my daughter but not so easy to find outside Australia.


SHOW ALL COMMENTS
Charlotte
July 12, 2016

Perfectly timed post…I have been searching for a more natural sun cream before we head off to Europe. I was going to purchase either Badger Company or Organic Children! Will definitely have a look at the Neutrogena one ☺️


Shannon
July 12, 2016

I’ve always found the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to be a good tool when looking for self care products with fewer hazardous ingredients. Based on their information we’ve used both Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream and the Badger face stick and, more recently, Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen (the baby version). I find Blue Lizard to be much easier apply and rub in; the Badger sunscreen is very, very, thick and requires a bit more effort. Neither has been an issue with my daughter’s sensitive skin.


Miranda
July 12, 2016

Hi Courtney,

Thank you for all the advice, protecting kids against the sun is indeed very important! However, I must admit that I wonder how honest all these recommendations are… and to what extend this post is pure marketing for the Canopea brand? I have been following your posts on Instagram for the past years now, and you never posted a picture of your kids wearing the Canopea shirts, except for the past 2 days… Since I really love your pictures and admire your taste for good products and the way you write, I hope your posts won’t become too much influenced by product marketing in such a cheap way. My apologies for being so critical, I do appreciate enormously the posts you have been writing until now.


Courtney in London
July 13, 2016

Hi Miranda,
Thanks for leaving a comment here.
This post is, I promise, not a sponsored post or written with the sole intent of promoting Canopea. As I mentioned above, I discovered this brand a few months ago (the brand is very new) and the kids have had these shirts for the past couple of months, which is why there aren’t any photos of them wearing these from before this time. (If you scroll through my IG feed, there is a photo of Ivy jumping from a rock,wearing her red sun shirt – this was taken on one of our first days in Positano, nearly a month ago.) I really, really like this brand. I’ve recommended it to all my friends here who we’ve been with in Positano and wanted to recommend it on the blog as well for people looking for excellent quality (and nice-looking) sun shirts. I have simply stated what we use for sun protection throughout the post. There is no marketing ploy here whatsoever.


Sarah G
July 13, 2016

I have to agree with you and even though I believe this isn’t pure marketing, by Courtney liking a brand and the kids wearing it, that particular brand does well from the posts, which is ultimately all good for the economy & small businesses! 😉 However, I also feel the post isn’t 100% truthful. The vests are probably put on the kids for water activities for warmth more than anything else, and most of the photos show the children VERY tanned in skimpy clothing. Usually the hotter the country the more people cover their limbs, but all the photos (apart from a few recent ones!) show tiny swimsuits and barely there play suits. Something doesn’t quite add up. Let’s be honest, tanned bodies look better in photos and the clothes, so I’m sure an element of skin exposure for tanning goes on, which is completely Courtney’s choice, but being told they always wear factor 50+ and use rash vests, I feel isn’t quite the truth. As I said in my previous posts, even olive skin needs to have decent sun exposure without clothes or block creams to tan to the depths we see here. And even if they are always covered and wear the vests, always showing the kids wandering around in tiny clothes is not setting a good example to other families. Again this is completely Courtney’s choice, but with 180k followers people are starting to wonder, hence this discussion!


MA
July 12, 2016

I love Badger for all the reasons mentioned above, but my kids HATE the smell! I love sticks for faces too, so we found some other brands that smell better (and I use the badger:). The one big downside with sun shirts here in Maine (USA) is once wet, they get cold. My kids strip them off when getting out of the (frigid Maine) water so their bodies can warm up. This year I am going to bring two per kid so they have a dry one to put back on when they get out of the water.


Isabella
July 12, 2016

😭😭😭😭when I see these t shirts I just want to cry…..I mean, have you ever seen anybody from a Mediterranean country wearing one of those on the beach? NOBODY would….just the thought of putting one of those on my children with 35 degrees +makes me faint, does “heat stroke” ring any bells?fabric they are made of is PLASTIC! On top of that, there are plenty of good mineral non nano sunscreen out there…..kiss my face for the USA market, avene, bioderma or la Roche posay for Europe. As a mother( of 3) and a doctor, only thing I can say is that the first sun protection begins with behavior, so avoid the sun between 11 and 15, a thing that most of the tourists coming to Italy from abroad has not learnt yet. Just watch local people habits ! Then a good mineral sunscreen is doing the rest of the job. But please, no plastic t shirts anymore!


Sofia
July 12, 2016

Agree with Isabella’s: Stay away from the sun between those hours, that’s your best protection. Otherwise, brands like Uriage, Avene, Bioderma or La Roche Posay, do a good job both for kids and adults’ face/body protection.


Mel
July 12, 2016

I’ve grown up in Australia with 40deg summers. We have the highest statistics of skin cancer and melanoma (very scary!). Hats and Rasheed are an absolute must. It’s interesting as we travel to Europe regularly and in Australia you would be the minority not wearing a rashie. However when we are in Europe we are generally the only ones with rashies and sun safe attire. Maybe try some different brands of Rashies. We’ve never felt hot wearing them in some serious heat. Agee also with other comments of staying out of the sun for those hours in the middle of the day.


Rachel | The Little Pip
July 12, 2016

Thankfully we don’t have the 35C heat problem in the UK so the shirts do well for a bit of keeping warm.


CANOPEA
July 13, 2016

Dear Isabella, while we agree with you that the best protection is to stay out of the sun during peak hours, but with skin cancer increasing in Europe by 5-7% every year (1 Australian out of 3 is concerned by Skin Cancer and 1 American out of 5), it is also indispensable to keep our children protected while they are out and about in the sun.

Of course, we still have to use sun cream on some parts of the body (face, hands and legs), but let’s not forget that sun cream is a big polluter as well as a constraint (mineral or chemical, you still need to apply every 2 hours to keep them safe!). In fact, a recent Spanish research (Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology), recently revealed that between 6000 and 14000 tonnes on sun cream end up in sea waters every year, which has dramatic consequences on coral reef
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/21/sunscreen-contributing-to-decline-of-coral-reefs-study-shows

As for the composition of our tops, we can also reassure you that they are composed of Econyl, which is a 100% recycled fiber made from textile leftovers and fishing nets (another big pollutant), so you can keep your kids protected and stay kind to the environment. More information on the Econyl Project here
http://www.aquafil.com/sustainability/the-econyl-project/

Last but not least, the fiber is super light, which means that they dry fast and remain breathable, even under 35-degree weather…

Hope this helps and don’t hesitate to check out our website for more information about our products and sun protection!

http://www.canopea-paris.com


india
July 13, 2016

I have to agree with Mel! Having also grown up in Australia, I too spent my childhood learning the importance of staying out of the sun and covering up when I swimming etc. After years of campaigning (something like 30+ years) FINALLY the rate of skin cancers are declining, thanks in part to people wearing rashies. They’re so much easier than slathering unwilling children in sunblock (i.e. unnecessary chemicals all over our bodies) and they don’t make you heat up, they’re exactly the same material as bathers. Also, Europe may be almost as hot as Australia but it doesn’t have a giant hole in the ozone layer above it so the UV ratings are not as high. I’d rather have my children wear slightly unfashionable rashes (which aren’t really unfashionable because all kids here wear them) than for them to grow up having to have moles melanomas cut out of their skin. Also, I highly doubt any doctor here would be discouraging anyone from wearing a rashie, the risk of skin cancer is just too real. Also, fashionable brands such as Zimmermann make beautiful rashies and the prices are quite reasonable.


MelTown
July 13, 2016

I live in Texas where the summers are extremely hot and my kids always wear rash guards and sun hats (in addition to sunscreen). Most people in climates with brutal sun know that the dangers of exposure make protection incredibly important, and sunscreen isn’t enough. You wear rash guards while swimming, so heat stroke isn’t an issue. Also people who live in hot climates are less prone to heat stroke (heat stroke occurs when temperatures are 20 degrees warmer than your used to). My husband is from a cooler area of the US and he didn’t respect the sun at all until he was in his 30s and had spent years in Texas.


Anna
July 12, 2016

Thank you for pointing out the environmental consequences Courtney! I feel like we often forget about them. I use Avene products (also the apres-sun Lotion) and really like them.


Alice Baucke
July 12, 2016

Be careful with the EWG’s recs. Many of the sunscreens that are recommend are from the companies that bankroll it. I’ve founde


Shawn
July 12, 2016

We have started using Beautycounter products. They have a cream which is great, a stick and a lip balm. The products are rated either 1 or 2 (highest possible ratings) in the Environmental Working Group ratings. My kids and I love them.


Christie
July 12, 2016

I want to second the recommendation to look on the Environmental Working Group’s webpage. They list sunscreens that are effective AND won’t harm coral. The one I discovered this year is Butterbean Organic. My kids wore this everyday to outdoor summer camp and they are super pasty (red and blonde headed preschoolers). It worked perfectly. Best of all, it comes in metal/reusable canisters so you don’t need to throw away the plastic (non-recyclable) tube. One of their products is refillable. Another is in a compostable stick. I cannot recommend these products enough.


Christie
July 12, 2016

Minette
July 13, 2016

Living in Australia, we all wear rashies (adults & kids), boardies & hats on the beach. We also ensure that sunblock contains zinc and is applied as part of the daily routine just like brushing our teeth! We have a Sunsmart app on our phones which gives you the UV alert ratings throughout the day and tells you when you need to wear sun protection. We also stay off the beach between 10am & 3pm to avoid the worst off the sun – besides the best surf is always first thing in the morning!


Rebecca
July 13, 2016

I love these rash tops Courtney, can’t wait to order some for my girls, the quality and colours are fab. Can I also plug this fantastic natural sunblock from NZ http://www.gotskinnies.com We swear by it in our family xx


Fern
July 13, 2016

I agree with Sarah at the top; how comes yours kids are all so tanned if they are covered up most of the time? Plus in nearly all your photos of them they have legs, shoulders and arms out with often no hat… I don’t mean to sound igronant at all (as I know this will come across), I am just interested in how they look so radiant in the sun!


Kelly
July 15, 2016

“but surely a little sun is not bad – even healthy”
Yes! Vitamin D :0)


Lisa
July 14, 2016

Just back from our hols – and I know we should be keeping kids in from 11-3 – and we do have a long lunch but inside for 4 hours is a long time – so I find rashests brilliant for when its hot . kids in water with hats and less worry …..I know too much sun is bad – but surely a little sun is not bad – even healthy – so as for kids going around in little shorts and tops in the heat – woo hoo – isn’t that a lovely thing? Kids feeling so free and enjoying the heat in the evening sun .

Me and my family are covered up most of the year so the joy of shedding a few layers is bliss – but I agree rash vests are super handy.

As for Courtney recommending a brand – surely thats expected – how else is a business supposed to run? Also it seems to me that the items that are recommended are curated and have passed the babyccino litmus test…. You don’t have to buy them – surely you cherry pick what you like or is acceptable to you. If something too expensive for me, I’m grateful for the idea and chose something alike less expensive.


Emilie in Paris
July 14, 2016

Love it and very timely to read about, as we are heading off to the sea soon! I recently heard that 50+ is actually much worse for kids skin that 30+ so the recommendation is to apply 30+ more frequently and not use 50+. I was wondering if someone else had heard this?


Rachel | The Little Pip
July 14, 2016

I’ve also read that Emilie.


Kosima
July 15, 2016

Dear Emilie,
I “just” was told by the lady in the pharmacy that 50+ could not protect better than 30+, so that there would not really be a difference.
What exactly did you hear? I mean, why would it be worse? Because of the amount of chemicals?
Thank you!


Emilie in Paris
July 17, 2016

Hey Kosima, exactly. the amount of extra chemicals is huge and the protection factor apparently is not massively different. I was interested to here if anyone had any intel on this 😉


Rachel
July 15, 2016

The link to the Tilley Hats you recommend does not seem to be working. Would you mind reposting? Thank you!
x


Courtney in London
July 16, 2016

Hi Rachel,
I’m so sorry. The link was working, but now it’s not. And the children’s Tilley hat is no longer on the website (it must have sold out?). Here is the link to the website so you can keep your eye out for the children’s size: http://www.tilley.com/uk_en/

Sorry about that! x


Courtney in London
July 16, 2016

Just found a link from the Canadian store: http://www.tilley.com/canada_en/men/hats/kids/t3-for-kids.html


Kosima
July 15, 2016

Dear Courtney,
thanks for this post!
I really enjoy using the Aesop Protective Body Lotion since you first recommended it. I even use it on my face. And since I’m pretty pale (red hair) I can tell if a sunscreen work or not. And this one does!
So I’m curious to know more about the Sage & Zinc Facial Hydrating Cream. Do you use it as your hydration every day? Without any other cream? Is it enough?
I will definitively try the Neutrogena Stick for my girls faces! They really don’t like the liquid sunscreen.
Enjoy your stay in Italy!
xx Kosima


Helena
July 17, 2016

Chiming in from Los Angeles, where sun protection is paramount – I’ve recently discovered the holy grail of suncreams, thinkbaby! it protects incredibly well, sinks in / dries totally, free of nasties, and smells wonderful. Everyone who uses it is a convert!


Isabella
August 19, 2016

@canopea: isnt’t nylon polyester? Is it good to wear polyester straight on children’s skin? It goes against any medical recommendations, especially during summer time. What doctors recommend is to protect skin according to sun uv index, so avoiding sun between 11 and 15, reapplying sun cream after bathing and anyway every two hours. Engraving this habit into children’s brains teaches them also how to look after their skin in adult age as well, unless we all grown ups want to wander around in coloured rashies….mineral non nano 30+ sun creams properly applied and behaviour are enough to preserve dna integrity, also in Australia. These rashies come handy and practical, but I find that teaching good “skin protection behaviour” will stick in adult life. Never seen a teen ager wearing rashies 😜😜


Danielle
September 17, 2016

I highly recommend suntegrity tinted!! It is great, moisturizes and evens out skin tone. Also toxin free.


July 18, 2017

[…] some other helpful posts to read are here and here about sunscreen. We hope you enjoy sunny days in the happiest and healthiest […]


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