Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
Why Your Kids Don’t Need Sunscreen
Why Your Kids Don’t Need Sunscreen @ Linda - flickr.com
Manchester, Northern England, June 2012: the sun is out, temperature has almost hit 30°C (over 80°F for those beyond the pond), people spend as much time outside as physically possible and schools panic when parents don’t apply about 100 layers of nuclear-grade sunscreen to their children before school. Summer in England.
I’m not lying about the sunscreen! Not that I think a sunburn is a good thing, but the general anxiousness about even hints of sun here is unhealthy in my opinion. I know people who apply sunscreen every time their children go outside, sunny or not. The same people worry about vitamin D deficiency and give them supplements, which in my mind is just plain crazy.
It feels particularly foolish compared with how people in the South of France deal with the sun. This is a region where the sun is out pretty much every day, and it’s higher up—meaning it is a lot more intense. Parents on the Côte d’Azur would not usually apply any sunscreen even though their kids spend a vast amount of time outside in what would be considered blazing heat in the U.K. So how come they are not totally burnt?
The simple truth is that people in hot, sunny places know how to live with the sun. For all those who usually live in cloudy or rainy places, here’s what you do when it’s hot and sunny:
Rule 1 – Do not go outside between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Rule 2 – Do not expose yourself more than necessary (aka no sunbathing)
Rule 3 – Wear long-sleeved t-shirts if you have to go out mid-day
Rule 4 – Wear a hat
Rule 5 – Trust your senses. If it feels hot, it is hot. That’s your body telling you to find shade.
Rule 6 – Expose gradually, in small doses
I lived on the Côte d’Azur for six years. I don’t think I used sunscreen on more than a couple of occasions, usually when someone made me go to the beach. I did have a couple of sunburns, but not more than I had in Germany when I grew up. From my point of view, people and particularly parents in the U.K. are clearly overdoing it with the sunscreen.
We get so little sun that we should cherish every second of it. That doesn’t mean exposing ourselves relentlessly, but it absolutely means we shouldn’t be afraid and block it out!
I’m an unflappable optimist. I like to think that having only a few really beautiful days here means that I cherish them properly. Right now I’m sitting on a train to London, marveling at the countryside, the bright yellow of the
rapeseed fields, the fresh green of pastures, shrubs and trees and the faint blue sky above it all. Just beautiful.
© 2012, Jan Petersen. All rights reserved.
More Great Stuff You'll Love: