5 Winter Sun Protection Tips for the Entire Family
By Whitnee Jenkins
Sun care is equally important in the winter, especially when traveling with kids
For those of us who live in colder parts of the country, sun protection may not be the first thing on your mind this holiday season. All you skiers out there may have experienced the painful and aesthetically displeasing horror of extreme goggle burn. You may be the family traveling from Colorado to Disney World who forgot that t-shirts and sunshine are the norm in Orlando, even in January.
Cancer Focus points out that snow can reflect “almost 90% of UV radiation,” and so you’re more likely to be burned under your chin and nose while enjoying winter sports. Those thick winter clouds only block 80% of the sun’s rays, and winter conditions shorten the window in which sunscreen is effective.
Sun care is equally important in the winter, especially when traveling with kids. So, whether you’re hitting the slopes or relaxing on a beach, here are five tricks for surviving the sun so you can worry less and play more.
1 | Use the Best Smelling Sunscreens
I know, you’re thinking, “Well, duh! Thank you so much for writing this completely unhelpful blog post about something I already know!” (insert sarcasm).
And you are right! Most of us have been burned badly enough (pun intended) to know that sunscreen is a must. So I won’t preach the need for using sunscreen to help prevent early aging and skin cancer. I just won’t. Instead, I will talk about sunscreen from an angle that is near and dear to my heart: smelling good.
There are many different brands of sunscreen, and, at the end of the day, they pretty much all accomplish the same thing. So, what sets apart one brand from the other? That, my dears, is smell! Whether you are on a week long beach vacation or a snowmobiling retreat, these best smelling sunscreen brands will have you smelling just plain delicious!
And, they won’t break the bank. You might even find yourself looking forward to the arduous task of applying sunscreen to your gaggle of kids!
Like myself, many of you may already be Hempz lotion cult fanatics! With its skin quenching abilities and the amazing smells to choose from, what’s not to love? Now you can wear your Hempz and protect your skin too. It has a fruity citrus scent that is sure to bring to mind lazy summer days even when it’s -5°. It goes on like a moisturizer because it is a moisturizer and is safe for kids, just watch the eyes!
Downside? It only comes in SPF 30.
With its tropical scent, this sunscreen brand brings to mind yummy things like coconut and Hawaii. While all Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens have the tropical scent, this one is my favorite because it goes on smooth like lotion and leaves your skin with a subtle, sparkly shimmer. Your skin looks gorgeous in the sun! This is the perfect sunscreen to look your best on an actual trip to Hawaii. You’ll come back bronze and glowing. It comes in SPF 15, 30, and 50. And if you’re not a sparkly kind of human, there is a sport edition that smells just as good.
Bonus: there is a kid’s stick for faces!
This sunscreen has a delicious banana scent that will have you craving a banana split in no time! It’s great for adults, kids, and those sensitive skin folks and comes in SPF 15, 30, 50, and 70. They even have a baby version to protect those chubby baby thighs! It’s also paraben free, PABA free, oil free, and gluten free. That’s a lot of freedom.
Oh, and it’s vegan!
I have saved the best for last with this one. Ocean Potion is my all-time favorite sunscreen for my family. Their signature Scent of Sunshine fragrance smells EXACTLY like an Orange Julius. Hello, yum! It is by far the best smelling sunscreen I have ever used. And the kid’s version has an equally yummy tropical fragrance.
This sunscreen is my favorite to apply because it goes on like lotion and absorbs quickly, which translates to happy kids that can play in the water quicker. Plus, I don’t mind it on my hands after applying to three kids, one hottie husband, and myself!
But what really sets it over the edge is that it does not contain oxybenzone, one of the more harmful chemicals that are in most sunscreens. Now that’s what I call a bonus!
2 | After-Sun Spray
There are going to be times when the sun has its way with you, no matter how much sunscreen you use. Especially on that week long, sunshine filled vacation to Sea World or that ski Saturday in Park City, UT. You might get sweaty, you might get wet, and, heaven forbid, you might forget to reapply. We’ve all done it!
The sun can be different in different parts of the world, too. The higher the altitude or the closer you are to the equator, the stronger the sun rays and exposure. And both white sand beaches and white snow reflect the sun like crazy! So yeah, it’s inevitable to be marked by the sun at some point.
Enter after-sun spray. Thank heavens for this miracle spray that can ease the symptoms of a sunburn and speed up healing! There are many commercial sunscreen brands that sell some sort of after sun care, whether it be spray or gel, but I prefer to make my own. That way I know what’s in it and I can ensure quality, natural ingredients.
DIY After-Sun Spray
- 2 tbsp Colloidal Silver
- 2 tbsp Witch Hazel
- 2 tbsp Fractionated Coconut Oil
- 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
- 1 bottle Filtered Water
- 1 Glass Spray Bottle Preferably dark or blue glass
Combine first five ingredients in spray bottle.
Fill spray bottle the rest of the way with filtered water.
Shake well before use.
Apply liberally to sunburned areas of the skin, multiple times a day, and get ready to feel better with this home sunburn remedy!
There are many DIY skincare remedies to help a sunburn, but these are a few of the key ingredients I use and love:
Colloidal silver has natural antibiotic properties and has been used to heal skin wounds and build up the immune system. I have even used it to heal ear infections, pink eye, and sore throats. It is a staple in our house.
The anti-inflammatory power of witch hazel makes it ideal for healing skin. Using witch hazel can also help with peeling.
Coconut oil has long been used as skin moisturizer, which will help with peeling. It is also antibacterial and antiseptic. Coconut oil is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids to help aid healing. I use fractionated oil to avoid solidifying and clogging up the spray bottle.
Essential oils are becoming ever more popular in households these days and can help with anything from ailments and beauty to household cleaning. Peppermint oil is cooling to the skin and can help release trapped heat in a sunburn. Lavender oil is especially great at soothing skin and healing burns. It’s analgesic and can help relieve pain and can also regenerate cells and tissue to heal skin. These two oils are a must in your after-sun spray!
3 | Rash Balm
cosmetic cream and lavender flowers on white towel wooden table background
If you are traveling to a sunny place this winter that involves a lot of sun and water play, be warned of the dreaded rash. Rashes pop up in many places! It’s just inevitable when you are: (1) wearing a swimming suit most of the day; (2) jumping in and out of the water; and (3) exposing yourself to copious quantities of sun. Especially on those kiddos and their sensitive skin! My own littles tend to get rashes on their shoulders where their life jackets rub, on the inner thigh where those pesky built in underwear on your swimming suit rub, and heat rash.
It’s no fun for the child or the parent! It stings and stings, and every time you put on a swimming suit, life jacket or sunscreen, it stings some more. It’s enough to make a mama crazy! And not the good crazy.
In the past I have tried everything from Vaseline to store bought rash creams, to no avail. Nothing works! And most commercial rash creams just sting when applied.
That’s when I decided to make my own rash balm. Can you tell that I love DIY skincare? I mean, the after sun spray I made is nothing short of a miracle, so why not a rash balm too? My recipe is adapted from a recipe by Rosemary Gladstar from her book Herbs for Children’s Health and includes the following:
- Calendula: This flower has large amounts of antioxidants and increases blood circulation to the wound to aid healing. It’s also very soothing to the skin.
- Comfrey: Comfrey leaf can reduce inflammation and is great for bruises and sore muscles. It can help speed up healing as well. Just make sure to use it only topically.
- Chamomile: Also an anti-inflammatory and is soothing for the skin.
- Lavender: Lavender is an analgesic and will help relieve pain in the damaged area. It also has antibiotic properties and can help with cell regeneration. It’s soothing and calming to the skin.
- Essential Oils: Melaleuca oil is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Chamomile and lavender oils help with pain and help sooth. Myrrh has antibacterial and healing properties.
Think Ahead: It takes 2-3 weeks for the herbs to infuse. If you are making this recipe for a vacation, make sure to plan in advance.
I let each of my kids pick out their very own water bottle. They love getting to choose the features and colors, and it gets them excited to fill it up on their own. Plus, it teaches them responsibility because they can’t lose it! If they lose it, they use their own money to buy a new one. If I had a dollar for every water bottle we’ve lost to a soccer field…
I love adding fruit like berries, lemons, and limes to our water. Add a couple drops of liquid stevia and you’ve got a yummy lemonade-like drink with much less sugar than actual lemonade! There are also many low sugar flavored water packets on the market that can be a great option as well.
True Lemon is my personal favorite, because they have many different flavors and there is no sugar or artificial sweeteners.
In our house we have a rewards system where our kids earn tickets to encourage helpfulness, good behavior, and responsibility. So you better believe I added making healthy eating choices and drinking water to our list of ways to earn tickets. Every time they drink a glass of water, they get a ticket, and then they exchange their tickets for cash at the end of the month. If you don’t have that elaborate of a reward system going on at your place, try doing something as simple as letting them choose a treat from the treat jar every time they drink a glass of water. Get creative. They’ll be into it, I promise!
Our rash balm recipe was inspired by this informative book. Take your children’s health into your own hands by populating your travel first aid kit with DIY herbal remedies.
5 | UV Index
I found out about this cool app while browsing the web one day and it’s pretty neat. While it may not be as necessary as staying hydrated, it’s kind of fun to check out how powerful the sun is where you are traveling. It’s simply called UV Index. It works based off of your location and will tell you what the uv index is for that day wherever you are. This is especially important if you’re traveling from sea level to a mountainous region. Remember the UV Index goes up 2% for every 1,000’ closer to the sun.
Knowledge is power, am I right? So if it’s a 1, you can probably get away with a light application of that best smelling sunscreen. And if it’s a 13? Good gravy, stay inside! Or you may find yourself using up more of that home sunburn remedy than you thought. Even still, sometimes you just have to go out, so now you can plan ahead and cover up!
Don’t let traveling with kids during those winter months get you down. Using these survival tips will have you ready to be the next contestant on Survivor. Or, at least rocking winter travel like the boss parent you are!
Whitnee Jenkins, Freelance Writer
Whitnee is a dancer, yogi, artist, and writer. She has often been described as having “creative ADD.” She is on a mission to live life mindfully, practice self love, and be authentic. You can find more of her work at www.whitneeelaine.com.