The Sunscreen Wars

Hapa boy at beach

Gotta protect that skin!

“Hey kids, let’s go to the pool!”

“Nooooo! No sunscreen!”

Is is just my kids? Or does this happen in your family, too? Many a fun outing to the pool, beach, park — even Legoland! — has come close to being scuttled because of the need to slather on a little Coppertone. We have tried nearly everything: lotion, cream, stick, even the spray kind (which dulled my pedicure and ruined the paint on my front porch, BTW), and still pretty much get the same results. Lots of complaining.

“It’s too greasy!”

“My skin is sticky.”

“I hate the smell!”

When my kids were littler, I chased them around the house (or amusement park parking lot) and sometimes had to resort to pinning them down, like one of those county fair greased pig competitions. It wasn’t pretty.

But I don’t want my kids to go out in the West Coast sun for hours on end without some protection from UVA and UVB rays. Especially, since I have not left the house since 1999 without slathering at least SPF 15 on my own face. It wasn’t always this way. My own childhood was filled with long days at the community pool and evenings riding my bike around the neighborhood with the other street urchins. There was no sunscreen — or suntan lotion, as it was called back in the 1970s — no wide-brimmed hats, no UV protective clothing. Back then, we relied on the ozone layer. Which was apparently already failing, as by mid-summer, I was inevitably brown as a monkey.

In the last few years, I’ve been reaping the effects of that childhood full of sun exposure. Brown spots and uneven pigmentation are creeping in.

And what’s this? White patches on my child’s golden face? I’ve seen them on many other Hapa kids, as well, especially as they get tan in the summer.

We finally went to see the doctor, who told us that the lighter spots are mild form of eczema. The rec: more moisturizing, hydrocortisone, and maybe even reduce our gluten intake (seems to be the cure to everything nowadays, doesn’t it?)

What about you? How do take care of your kids’ skin in the summer?




  1. says

    Ha – my mixed daughter has whitish splotches on her leg, they look harmless enough so I never worried about it. Now I know she’s normal, thanks to you ;)

  2. says

    Have you read the articles about the damaging chemicals in sunscreens?

    It’s causing me stress every time I apply or purchase sunscreen. The natural stuff is incredibly expensive, and it’s a pain in the neck to rub in. The easiest stuff for kids is the spray-on kind, but that all has oxybenzone or other nasty stuff in it.

    I wish someone would invent a reasonably priced, natural sunscreen that is easy to apply!!!

    • says

      Marie, I found that when I was having a terrible eczema outbreak this summer that switching to a titanium dioxide / zinc oxide sunscreen helped it to heal. The kind I now use is Neutrogena ultra sheer (I think that’s the name). It comes in a tiny bottle for about $10, and is pretty liquidy.My kids like it too. The only drawback, besides the cost, is I don’t think it’s as waterproof as the chemical kind.

      I’ve read about oxybenzone having a slight risk of hormonal complications. A few years ago, I did a ton of online research about sunscreen and learned the European and Asian brands rarely use oxybenzone, but nearly every major American sunscreen does. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, marie!

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