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  • Stephanie Perry

"But Mom, I don't want to put on my sunscreen!"

"Wait! You can't get in the pool until you get your sunscreen on!" - every mom.

"But mom, WHY do I have to wear sunscreen? I just want to swim!" - every kid.

Hats, sunglasses, swim shirts. The smell of sunscreen. Ahh! It's almost summer!! With the coming of summer comes the daily fight of applying sunscreen. In order to ease the process with my oldest, I had to take him on a closer look at the science behind protecting our skin.

We started with Nature Print Paper (sometimes called sun-print paper) as our "skin". This can be found on Amazon or most local art stores. If you need to keep track of more than one kid's art work at a time, be sure to write the names on the back in pencil so that they don't wash off in the later steps. We then used sunscreen to paint onto a piece of transparency film with our Q-tip paint brushes (the thicker the better!) that was cut to the same size as our blue sun print paper. We also used a sticker to simulate how our skin might be protected using a swim shirt or a hat. (In the future, I would love to compare different brands of sunscreen, but for this test we used Coppertone kids SPF 45 because it was on sale. Every bit helps right?!) We then layered the transparency paper on top of the sun print paper and set it in the sun for a few minutes. The blue color faded to a light green as the UV rays from the sun initiated a chemical reaction with the dye in the paper. However, the area under the sunscreen remained blue because it was protected from the UV Rays! The paper then had to be washed in a bucket of water to stop the reaction and wash off the excess dyes in the paper. As it dried, it created a beautiful picture in white to match the image drawn with the sunscreen. We want to protect our bodies from the UV rays just like we protected our paper!

Next we used UV changing beads (thank you Amazon again!) to make color changing key chains. Zip ties worked much better than string for little fingers to string the beads. Once the zip ties were closed around a key ring we were ready to go exploring outside! In direct sunlight, the beads changed quickly from white to pink, purple or yellow. In shady spots, the change was much slower because we weren't having direct exposure to the UV rays of the sun. My son then loved watching them change back to white in his pocket or when we came back inside. Now it's up to the key chain to tell him when to wear his sunscreen, not me! When it changes colors, he reminds me to wear sunscreen!

If we are going through the effort of putting on a sunscreen, what should we be looking for? We are looking for a sunscreen that has UVA and UVB coverage. The sun exposes us to both of these rays, even on cloudy days so apply a sunscreen with broad spectrum coverage every day! An easy way to remember them is UVA rays causes your skin to age and UVB rays can leave you burned. I don't know about you, but I don't like the sound of either!

This quick demonstration really helped the process of getting my kids lathered up! Hope it helps yours too!

Allure magazine recently ranked the top 25 sunscreens. See if yours made the list!

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