Sun protection for the family

When the days are bright, it’s great to get outside, but it’s important to be sun-safe too. Here’s how.

At home and abroad, it’s good to get into sun-care habits that your little ones will adopt for a lifetime of healthy living.

Top tip for getting started

Be a good sun safety role model. Show your kids that you take sunburn seriously, putting cream on before you go out, wearing a hat on days outdoors, and making sure that daddy’s had the sunblock treatment, too. Especially if daddy’s head hasn’t got quite as much hair on it these days…!

Avoiding sun damage

WHY The sun’s UV rays react with melanin, a chemical found in our skin. Melanin absorbs UV rays before they can cause serious damage, but sunburn happens when the intensity of the UV exposure is more than the melanin can cope with.
WHO Everyone should take care of their skin, even if they have dark skin or think they ‘tan easily’ (any colour change of your skin is, basically, a sign of burning). Sun exposure is particularly risky for babies and children with moles, fair skin and hair, or a family history of skin cancer.
HOW General practitioner and father-of-four Dr Jonathan Levy advises, ‘Always wear sunscreen, even on a cloudy day. The risks [of heat stroke] just aren’t worth taking. And you have to be extra careful with children’s skin. It takes only a few minutes for them to burn.’

Sun-safe tips

• Get into the habit of taking sun screen everywhere. Keeping a bottle in your handbag means you always have some handy. Look out for bottles with a carabiner clip that can be filled with sunscreen so you can attach them to school bags, the dog's leash and the kids' bikes as well.
• ‘Choose a sun screen with the highest SPF number you can find, and don’t go lower than SPF30,’ says Dr Levy. ‘Select a waterproof sunscreen that is sweat-resistant. Put it on at least 20 minutes before going out in the sun, to allow it time to be absorbed, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours, and immediately after the kids get out of the water if they’ve gone swimming.’


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Keep the family hydrated

• Remind children to drink water often while playing in warm or hot weather. Heat exhaustion can be the result of dehydration, and for children, even the slightest headache can be unbearable.
• If your kids find drinking water ‘boring’, fill a sports bottle so they feel like athletes, or mix up jugs of very diluted juice and cordial and put them within easy reach for regular drink breaks.


• Layering can help increase UV protection, and rash vests are a good choice if you’re spending the day with the family at the beach.
• Hats keep heads cool and prevent burning, so the bigger and floppier the better.

Seek out the shade

• Little ones can overheat very quickly and without warning, so taking regular breaks from the sun is recommended. Cool down in air-conditioned spaces wherever possible.
• Keep an umbrella handy for temporary shade as well, especially at the park or on the beach.
• Try to plan your days so you’re not outdoors for very long between 11am and 3pm, when the sunshine is most intense.

Keeping happy in the sun

Of course, having fun outdoors isn’t just about sun protection. Check out our at-a-glance tips for avoiding insect bites, hayfever and other nasties – Summer home wellbeing.

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Sun exposure causes wrinkles, freckles and all sorts of possible problems, always use sunscreen, always. It's so worth it!

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Although I love the sun I always wear a hat and I find that using a pre-tan accelerator cream, such as Elemis, always prepares my skin well for sun exposure and I get an even, natural looking tan.

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I had my neck, shoulders and arms covered A hour in the garden this morning early on and my neck and shoulders are burnt. My eyes are blurred from the sun. Especially when trying to read. Can you imagine what the effects would be on a child. Please don't forget to protect them with sunblock and don't forget to get them to wear a hat and even sunglasses. But mostly as tempting as it would be DON'T let them play out for a long time. Trying to make use of the sunny days.

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