With so many conflicting opinions, reviews and reports on how effective/toxic/natural/protective sunscreen is, we decided to test a few different brands and types that Snuggle Bugz carries to judge for ourselves. Conducting a study such as this requires very scientific methods so we found several adorable models of different ages and selected six different sunscreens to apply liberally on one of the sunniest days in July.
Navigating the various brands and types of sun protection can be daunting and throw in the SPF and ingredient decisions and it can be downright overwhelming. We selected five different brands, three different styles of application, a range of SPF, and four children plus two adults in our search to find the best sunscreen.
- 1 Squirmy 9 Month Old
- 1 Complaining 4 Year Old
- 1 Impatient 6 Year Old
- 1 Independent 8 Year Old
- 2 Busy Moms
Take all subjects to busy outdoor tourist attraction on blistering hot day. After the children have endured the long line to get in and are begging to go on rides and see all the things, announce that they must all line up for sunscreen application first. Endure groaning and whining while each child gets pasted/sprayed/rubbed with a different product in order to determine ease of application, time required to apply, and children’s reaction to the product. Once everyone is lathered up, the real fun may commence and testing of the efficacy of our sunscreens also begins.
First up we applied this sunscreen to the two adults as we waited in line. Both moms found this easy to apply with good coverage overall and not too greasy on the skin. There is little to no smell to this product and it felt very natural.
- Sweat and water resistant so on our hot testing day we knew we could count on continued coverage.
- Ease of application
- Non fragrant smell
- Held up well in the splash pad and through sweaty activities
We Didn’t Like:
- Formula was a bit thick for face application and made us sweat possibly even more.
- Took longer to absorb than some of the others
Overall: This sunscreen was definitely effective, we re-applied after 40 minutes of sun exposure and neither of us were burned by the sun, nor did we react to the lotion in any way. A great go-to sunscreen that is safe for adults and kids.
Used on our 9 month old test subject, we put this #1 rated sunscreen to the test on our squirmy but mostly willing participant. This went on fairly easily, was a bit thick and did take a bit of rubbing to get it absorbed but smelled wonderful (light and fresh citrus scent) and left no white residue after considering how thick it felt.
- Thick formula gave us the feeling that it had great protection
- The fresh smell- light and non offensive
- Lasted longer than others with the higher SPF rating and held up well in water
We Didn’t Like:
- Not as easy to apply as some of the others
Overall: This sunscreen was one of our top favourites of the day. With a thicker formula than other mineral sunscreens, it felt protective but non harmful and was perfect for our tiniest tester. No burns or reactions to this lotion and the baby was not bothered at all when we applied it to his skin.
Used for our 4 year old tester who complains if anything takes too long, this product was great as it sprayed on and was the fastest to apply.
- Super easy to apply, especially to larger areas like legs and arms.
- Good coverage without leaving any white residue.
- Nice even spray coming out of the can so it could be sprayed right on body or in your hands to apply to face and more delicate or small areas (Behind the ears, nose)
We Didn’t Like:
- This one was a bit greasier than others
- If you are not careful you can miss some areas because it sprays on so easily
Overall: Loved the ease of this and it is perfect for the kid who just can’t stand still long enough to get the sunscreen on. It was effective and did its job overall. Would recommend possibly using this on the body and another on the face that is less greasy feeling.
Our impatient 6 year old tester tried this one out and he was a fan. With a thinner formula, this spread easily and was quickly applied and absorbed.
- Ease of application
- Non fragrant smell
- Didn’t leave white residue
We Didn’t Like:
- Lower SPF and thin formulation required more frequent application
- The container is harder to squeeze and regulate the amount of lotion that comes out each time. We did have one explosion of product on the first shake and squeeze.
Overall: This was great for our 6 year old that wanted very little to do with having sunscreen applied. It was quick and felt light so he didn’t feel like he was lathered from head to toe. Can be applied liberally but be careful when you squeeze it out!
We gave this to our oldest and most independent tester to apply on herself. The stick was perfect for her face, applied easily with the consistency of a deodorant stick but no white residue. The size of the stick was perfect for small faces and noses. The lotion was used for the rest of the body as it would have taken too long to apply the stick everywhere. It went on cleanly and relatively easily as well.
- Ease of application on the stick- kids can do it themselves once they are a bit older
- Non fragrant smell
- Didn’t leave white residue
- Convenient size and packaging for both lotion and stick
We Didn’t Like:
- Lotion was a tad greasier
- The stick is convenient but isn’t practical to use on its own for the whole body.
Overall: Great for your independent babe and also great to throw in your purse for a quick application. The stick is perfect for the face and is also great to send with your school aged child to apply on their own without a huge mess. The lotion held up well and was easy to apply to the larger body parts and no burns or reactions were experienced.
The Final Verdict:
Both moms and kids really liked the Think Baby Mineral Based Lotion, SPF 50. It gave great coverage, had a great scent and lasted a long time. Not to be outdone though, we also really liked the Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral Based Stick, SPF 30 and Baby Boo Bamboo Natural Spray, SPF 30 for ease of application. As with so many other skin care products, it really depends who you are using them on and for what activity. If convenience and ease are huge factors for you, a spray or stick formula may be your best bet. If you are super cautious about the sun and want peace of mind, having a higher SPF, top rated product like Think Baby may just be the way to go.
The best protection from the sun is limited exposure during peak hours and using protective layers of SPF resistant clothing, hats and eyewear at all times. All of the products that we tested were mineral based and did not contain the controversial ingredients found in some chemical based sunscreens. Zinc oxide and avobenzone are the only active ingredients in sunscreen that protect against UVA1 rays, however zinc oxide protects against UVA2 and UVB rays as well. If you want to be sure you are getting the full protection you need, look for these ingredients in conjunction with smart exposure, especially for small children.
You’re uncomfortable, you’re feeling large and in charge and it doesn’t help that it’s hot and sticky out. How the heck do you deal? I’ve got some tips and tricks for dealing with your pregnancy in the thick of the summer months and if you read to the end… I’ve got an embarrassing story for you as well.
This may sound like a simple concept but when you’re uncomfortable to begin with it’s that much harder. I know you know what I’m talking about. Ok, of course there are the basics like staying in the shade, wearing lighter colours and just flat out staying indoors on hot days. You already know that stuff though. How can you make cooling down fun? Well, I’ve got a few simple techniques for you to try:
- Add frozen berries to your water bottle for a fruity refreshment or try adding berries to your ice cubes. I love the flavour this adds to my water and it makes me drink a lot more than I normally would.
- Head to the lake! There are some amazing spots around the GTA to go for a dip. This can be really refreshing and fun on hot summer day. Just don’t forget to bring a cooler with drinks. Oh and FUN TIP put your sunscreen in the cooler so it’s nice and cold when you apply it.
- Freeze your sheets!? Ok, I actually have to try this out for myself. I’ve been told that if you put your sheets in a freezer bag and place them in the fridge or freezer a few minutes before bed you can cool yourself down. Keep in mind, this isn’t going to stay cool all night but if you’re needing some extra relief it’s a cool idea to try.
- Eat cool foods. You can freeze grapes for a yummy late night snack, have some frozen berries in your yogurt, make pasta salads to take for lunch, we know we can always use another excuse to eat ice cream and I personally love having some lemonade in the fridge. I’m no Martha Stewart and I definitely don’t brew it from scratch but I do enjoy a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime in my store bought lemonade.
If you haven’t already been told… you’ve got a lot more blood pumping through your body now that you’ve got a little human to nurture. Guess what that means? Most women can actually burn much faster because there’s more blood pumping near the surface making your skin more sensitive than normal. When you’re pregnant you’re actually more likely to suffer from heat rash and chloasma (skin patches that develop during pregnancy that cause discolouration on your face and body) as well. So, of course you can stay in doors, cover up, stay in the shade but let’s be real… you’re going to be in the sun at some point. I tested out Substance Natural Sun Care Creme SPF 30 from Matter Company and I’m loving it! It makes me feel good to lather in a chemical-free, unscented sunscreen and boy is it creamy. It’s got a really smooth texture when you apply it and you can see it go on. Don’t you hate when you can’t see where you’re applying your sunscreen only to find out when you’ve got burn patches? Not the case with this sun care creme. It has natural oils such as organic shea butter, sesame seed and jojoba which help to protect and moisturize your skin. Oh and it’s not just for mamma bear, you can use it on the entire family! I can’t wait to test it out on my little one.
Another great way to cool down and cool off (if your hormones are as crazy as mine are) is to just take a bath. If you’re looking for some new bath salts you have GOT TO TRY the Matter Company’s Substance Mineral Soak with Bergamot, Elemi & Tangerine and it’s heaven. Not only does it smell fresh it actually helps to rejuvenate your summer skin. It helps to relieve tummy dryness, relaxes stiff muscles and helped me with my round ligament pains. Matter also has a leg and back creme that I like to put on before bed. It said ‘anti-fatigue’ on the front so I had to try it out (I’m sure you know what I’m talking about). It’s lemony fresh and great to start the day or to finish off a relaxing bath. We need a little extra soothing don’t we? My feet have actually been so swollen and sore because of the extra weight I’m carrying. Nothing better than a bath soak and some lotion to help with that. Would love to hear your remedies for relaxing. Please let me know in the comments below.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR
Ok ladies, you made it to the very end which means… you’re hoping to read my oh so embarrassing wardrobe malfunction story. I just hope I save you from going through this yourself. I’m just over 6 months pregnant now and I’ve been getting away with wearing my normal clothes. Not my jeans… those were out of the picture by about 14 weeks but I have some dresses and shirts that I can still fit into. I had a busy day of meetings this week and I thought “it’s too hot and there is no way I’m wearing my maternity jeans”. So I slipped into a dress that used to sag on me. It had buttons up the back and seemed to fit perfectly… I was wrong. After my very first meeting of the day I went to get into my car when a few of the buttons caught onto the seat. PIEW (that’s the sound of a button flying off)… I almost cried. I now had a gaping hole not at the top of my dress, not at the back of my dress but exactly where someone could clearly see my underwear. Yes, I panicked. I actually ran back up to my clients house to ask if she had a safety pin and luckily she helped tighten things back up for me. When I sat back down in my car the safety pin burst open. Definitely not one of my finest moments. There was a pin and I was sitting on it…. ouch! I drove to the closest store in hopes of finding something I could throw on. Did I mention that I had a busy day of meetings? So there I was… walking through the aisles with my blue underwear in full view. I think my face literally matched the colour of my red dress. I grabbed 3 dresses and ended up buying ALL of them. A girl’s got to have options. Not sure I’ve ever ripped off a tag to take to the cashier on the way out though. There wasn’t a chance I was walking around in my busted dress for another minute.
LESSON OF THE DAY: Invest in some loose clothing BEFORE you get into a situation like I did. Summer maxi’s, shorts, tanks… you know the summer essentials that could get you out of a pinch like the one I was in.
Best of luck staying cool mamma,
Jackie is a Southern-Ontario based TV Host, Interior Stylist and first-time mom due in October. Follow her journey through pregnancy and into parenthood weekly through this series “Baby Talk” with Jackie and check out her Nursery planning tips and tricks in her blog “Nursery Style” with Jaclyn Colville.
Summer is here! All winter long we hoped for these days, when snow suits and cold weather wouldn’t make leaving the house so darn hard. Now that the heat is here, here’s a few tips to keep your days in the sun safe, simple, and fun!Plan your days around the sun
With little kids, we need to be extra careful with sun and heat exposure. Of course, you want to be outside as much as possible, but avoid the sun at its strongest and hottest, which aren’t the same thing. The sun is highest in the sky at noon, meaning there is greatest chance for sun burn then. But the sun is actually hottest at 3:30pm, meaning there is greatest chance for heat stroke then. If possible, plan any outings for morning or after dinner. This works out best with little ones anyway, as we’re often wanting to head home for lunch and afternoon naps around noon. We’ll usually spend the morning at a park, kiddie pool, or splash pad, and then we might go for a walk or an ice cream after dinner. If you are out from 11:30am-1:30pm that’s when you need to be most vigilant about sun screen, reapplying after swimming or every hour. And don’t forget sun hats and stroller canopies!
Be ready for anything!
Just yesterday we were playing at a park when we started to feel really hot, and we were kilometers from home. The park had a kiddie pool but bathing suits were absolutely required and we didn’t have ours! My kids were crushed and I was so mad at myself! We ended up having to drive home and by the time we got home, we decided to just stay inside, but it was a real missed opportunity. From now on, I’m packing bathing suits and towels every time we leave the house! My three kids can all share one big towel and bathing suits don’t take up much space. It’s worth it! Alongside bathing suits, make sure you always pack extra sunscreen, Band-Aids, and plenty of water. For the non-potty-trained population, make sure you pack a reusable swim diaper, too!
Snacking on the go
I love spending hours on end outside with my kids, especially after a long winter being cooped up indoors. I find if I don’t plan ahead for food and drinks though, I end up spending a lot of money at cafes and corner stores while we’re out. Have a few healthy snacks on hand that are easy to throw in your diaper bag. I like bringing apples, bananas, almonds, and bread. For babies, it’s nice to have a few baby food pouches, even if you normally make your own at home. Make sure toddlers have water bottles with them at all times, and I suggest filling them with only water. Some kids don’t like water but if they’re hot and thirsty, and it’s the only option, trust me – they’ll drink it. For babies who are bottle feeding formula or breast milk, make sure you have a bottle bag with a freezer pack inside to keep the milk from overheating.
These days can seem long because they are, but try your best to savour every one. A few years ago I read a quote about us only having 18 summers with our kids and it really stuck with me. Summer is only a couple of months, but there’s nothing like it. Try to say yes to ice cream more often and let them stay in the pool for that extra hour. Childhood summers are mainstays in our memory banks – even as adults, so many of those sun drenched moments are fresh in our minds. Let’s make the most of them and enjoy them with our kids!
Emily is a Montreal-based writer and blogger, but most importantly, a mom of three littles (age five and under). She geeks out over cloth diapers, lattes, and will do just about anything to travel. You can find her on Instagram @emmorrice where she profusely overgrams pictures of her meals, kids and city.
Summer is finally here! I know it’s been elusive all over Canada, with just the right amount of teasing to drive us insane. Summer is a wonderful time but comes with some safety concerns, just as winter does here in Canada.
The first of these concerns: the sun. A little sun is always great, but be careful not to overdo it, especially when your babes are quite little. The best way to keep your little ones protected from the sun is to avoid the peak times of the day – the sun’s rays are strongest between 11am and 4pm. If you have a toddler, that’s usually lunchtime and nap time so that works out nicely.
A few more sun tips:
For infants over 6 months, use a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays – bonus points for a sunscreen that isn’t full of a bunch of garbage. You can check the EWG rating for one that is free of junk ingredients.
Those sweet little one or two piece traditional swimsuits for girls (especially) are so cute but provide hardly any coverage and therefore sun protection. When kids are in and out of water, it’s hard to ensure that their sunscreen is always perfectly applied. Make sure they’re wearing a hat (ideally with a full brim) and a swimsuit that actually covers their skin.
Get in the shade! Our backyard has hardly ANY shade during the peak daytime hours so sometimes I had to create my own, although somewhat crude. I suggest something more sustainable than holding an umbrella. You can get swimming pools and outdoor toys with canopies on them. Don’t discount the value of the shade! What if you’re a sun goddess? Well I used to setup the blanket so half was in the shade and half was in the sun.
Stay hydrated! I’m looking at you, breastfeeding mamas! Keep in mind your little ones may be a bit thirstier than usual, may “ask” (demand) milk more often. It’s important to stay hydrated in the sun at the best of times, let alone when you have someone stealing all your liquids. Help your older children to stay by offering water often and making sure it is always nearby. We bought a Skip Hop Straw Bottle that my son loves the act of drinking out of and it helps him to get more water with less effort than his Wow Cup (although we still adore the Wow Cup). And psssst, if you’re out and your child drinks all the water you brought, or it was just one of those days and you forgot it, any coffee shop will happily oblige with some water for a little one.
Water table, backyard pool, splash pad, sprinklers… incorporate water play into your outdoor activities to help cool off. Never leave little ones unsupervised around water – I wrote a whole blog post on this and you can find it here.
Lots of homes around the country don’t have air conditioning (I’m looking at you, Alberta!) because the need for it is so slight that it is an unnecessary cost to the homeowners. So what to do when it’s hot inside and hot outside? Well that’s a dilemma indeed! You can try going to a movie, depending on the age of your kids – perhaps the “Stars and Strollers” afternoon movies would be best. Go to the mall, indoor play places or run a few errands in air conditioned stores.
I had a question on Facebook the other day from a parent who had read an article about Sunscreen and was a bit cautious and/or even a bit freaked out – not only about what she was putting on her baby’s skin, but what she was putting on her own skin as well. Since we sell sunscreens, I figured it might be helpful to have a bit of a decoding blog post to help parents understand sunscreen a bit better.
Things to understand about sunscreen is that you should always have to reapply throughout the day. It’s not natural to put something on your skin that just simply stays (or claims to) there until you scrub with soap. If you don’t have to reapply after going in the water, that’s because there is a chemical in the sunscreen to allow it to become “waterproof,” (the terms “waterproof” and “sweatproof” are banned on all SPF products in the US, by the way – we may be a different country, but skin is skin!).
So what do you want to look for in a sunscreen?
1. SPF up to 50
While you might think you’re getting twice or three times the protection with a seriously high number in the SPF column, an SPF of 50 should be just as sufficient. This is to say, don’t slather on an SPF 900 and think you’re good until your next birthday. Use any product higher than 50 the same way you would use a product with SPF 50. More on that here.
2. UVA vs UVB vs Broad Spectrum
Have you seen either of those things on the label and had no clue what it meant? Join the club! Just think of “A” as ‘age’ and “B” as ‘burn’ – which is what those two types of rays do. You need a sunscreen that either claims “broad spectrum” or that mentions it protects against UVA and UVB.
3. Ingredients to Avoid
In Canada, all sunscreens are regulated the same way that prescription drugs are, so everything that is in a sunscreen is deemed ‘safe’ for topical use. Naturalists, however, think otherwise. To find a sunscreen without the below ingredients, you will definitely be spending a bit more money.
Vitamin A – This is safe in many lotions that are applied indoors or at night, but can be harmful in sunscreens (that are typically applied in direct sunlight). It might show up on your sunscreen ingredient list as Retinyl palmitate. While it’s not a horrific thing by any means, some experts advise avoiding it (while some advise that it’s an approved ingredient). More on that here and here.
Oxybenzone – The description behind this is complicated so first take my word for it that it’s best to steer clear of it. Basically it pretends it’s estrogen in women and alters sperm production in men. It is also quite common for people to be allergic to it. I think I’ll pass on the Oxybenzone, thanks. More on that here and more on hormones and sunscreen here.
So now that I’ve completely freaked you out, I’ll tell you that there are sunscreens that don’t contain these ingredients. A few of which we carry.
And I’ll also say that sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, every time. Sunburns are harmful to your skin every time they happen. Always ensure you and your children are covered appropriately at the beach with either a parasol, hat or SPF-blocking sunwear, like SwimZip or Baby Banz, below.
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