How to be safe in the sun with Boots

With a heatwave hitting the UK this week, I have joined hundreds of thousands of other parents and set up water play in the garden, slapped Factor 30 on the boys before school and even managed 10 minutes in the garden yesterday for a long overdue hit of vitamin D.

I can't help it, I love the sun. I love the feeling of the sun on your face when you close your eyes, that powerful sensation of the sun's rays blasting your skin with warmth that transports you back to holiday memories, that stepping off the plane moment and being engulfed by heat.

But after a lovely brunch with the sun safety team from Boots, I was amazed by how little I knew about really being safe in the sun. I listened to the horror stories from the pharmacist, the tales of the little babies being brought in with sun burn after every spike in the weather. And the everyday stories that I just hadn't given my full attention to. Holiday tips, device for the children, easy things to forget.

The brunch took place at the beautiful Folly Restaurant in London. Every where you looked was a photo opportunity! We headed downstairs to a private room, with a table laden with goodies and suncream!

We all shared our sun safety stories, I told them all how I cringe when I look back at our holiday photos, because there's a common theme. Not only did we seem to only take holiday photos at dinner with a drink in our hands but all I now see are burnt faces, orange skin, all natural, but all damaging! At the time I remember feeling more confident, happier about my body and without a care, smothered my precious skin in Factor 15 and Factor 8 oil. OIL! What was I thinking?!

Quite frankly I can see now I look ridiculous. I can see in a lovely photo with our best friends that they look healthy and sun kissed and I look like a female David Dickinson (Oh and spot the helpful red eye correction tool baaahhhh!). And this year when we head to warmer climes I am going to put to the test everything I learnt from Boots. You can still tan and protect yourself! You can fake it rather than bake it!

I sat in a school assembly last Friday and was chatting with one of the other mums whilst we waited for the class to arrive. And we got onto the subject of sun cream before school and she pulled up a photo on her phone. A friend of hers specialises in skin analysis and she had been for her own comprehensive skin test. The sun damage photo was frightening. You can't really see it when you look at her, it's what you will see as she gets older.

As much as I would love to have my own face analysed I'm not sure I'd like the results. I know I've been silly, worn cheap sunglasses, not protected my body on a sunny Saturday in England. I've burnt the skin on my chest numerous times and that will show when I hit 40. Already I can see my chest is a little bit crinkly instead of smooth. Aaah! I've peeled like a snake, burnt my lips, all for an orangey glow that fades before you've got up to date with post holiday washing. 

As parents we do everything we can to protect our children. We know they need to wear sun protection suits, stay out of the midday sun, wear hats and high factor protection. But we don't seem to apply the same care to ourselves. So here are a few tips I heard from the Boots team that I won't forget in a hurry.

  • A wet t-shirt offers you ZERO protection from UV rays. UV sun suits are more expensive than regular swimwear and so it should be! 
  • Look at your surroundings. Grass, the pool even buildings are all reflective surfaces and bounce sun rays back onto your bodies. So if you are heading to Greece where a lot of the architecture is white - remember even in the shade those stone and painted buildings will reflect the UV rays right back at you!
  • Sunglasses are not a fashion statement! I think there's a common misconception that sunglasses are cool for a photo and not a necessity. I know I've got the boys to pose for a photo and then the sunglasses get discarded onto the grass. Protecting your eyes is an absolute essential. Look out for the CE mark on labels to be sure even a cheap pair of sunglasses offer UV protection. As parents we persevere with hats for babies and kids but we let them not wear sunglasses. We need to think if them as equally important!
  • 80% of your eyes lifetime exposure to UV light and damage will have happened by the time you are 18. That is a scary fact! I know I've let the boys play with iPads or our phones for some quiet time around the pool but NO don't do it! Screens act as a terrible reflector bouncing the UV rays straight into your kids faces! So I will be leaving the screens in the hotel room this year. 
  • Suncream has a shelf life of just one year. Boots unlike many others, don't rotate their stock so you know when you buy your new supply each year it's in date and good to go! Don't keep it in the fridge either. When you apply it don't rub too hard or it will separate and stay on top of your skin in cloggy lumps, which we then work even harder to rub in! Lotions are much more moisturising for your skin than aerosol sprays and a golf ball sized amount is enough to cover a toddler head to toe
  • If you suffer from insect bites in the heat wear light coloured clothes and avoid perfume, they love it! Be extra careful with your ankles and wrists too, it's where we often miss rubbing lotion or spraying a repellant and they get us!
  • Your skin remembers where it was burnt, which is why you will burn again and again in the same place. Sun burn is not big and it's not clever. It just hurts.

Thank you to Boots for opening my eyes to all these top tips. I shared with the group how I almost felt embarrassed to be the "over protective" British mother with her lily white children on the beach in Spain last year. Covering them from head to toes in UV suits and taking them off just for 20 minutes or so to get a vitamin D burst (which they all need everyday!) towards the end of the day.

All children under 5 should take a vitamin D supplement and have around 15-20 minutes of sunshine every day without being smothered in sun block. 

Neither of mine have ever taken vitamin supplements and it's made me realise, in a busy life, how easy it is to rush home from school, eat tea, watch some television and miss out on that precious time outside. Tell me I'm not the only one?!

We are heading for a hot country this month - any other tips you'd recommend for keeping them cool?!


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