Sunscreen application is an act of love, and crucial for the long term health of children growing up in New Zealand under an ozone hole. It's not always the easiest thing to do when your child wants to get on and play, and we think that children's attitude to sunblock changes over the years. We had to giggle putting together this list!
Children's 'ages and stages' of sunblock application
0 - 12 months: Instinctive rebellion
"I don't know why you're doing that, or what it is, but I know I don't like it!"
Very little people have no clue why you're insisting on slathering sunblock on their skin, and no idea that you have spent ages researching which natural sunblock is safest for their delicate and sensitive skin while providing effective sun protection.
1 - 2 years: Channels slippery eel
"No no no no no no!"
Small children don't generally like having to stay still while someone rubs goo all over them for no apparent reason. Your calm reasoning and pleas for cooperation are likely to fall on deaf ears. Hang in there.
2 - 3 years: Me do it!
"No me do!"
The constant cry of toddlers everywhere in reaction to a vacuum cleaner, a face cloth, clothing, and sunblock. You will be weighing the pros and cons - a proud happy child, willing sunscreen application and good habits BUT sunscreen like a facemask and wiped on clothes and chairs - or tidy application on a screaming child... either way there will be a price to pay for sun protection.
4 - 6 years: Wriggle & run
"Let me go!!"
At this age all your child's focus is likely to be on the enticing waves, the other kids playing, the dunes to explore... sunscreen application is just holding them back from the fun!
6 - 10 years: Resignation & resentment
By now you've explained why sunblock is important 5634 times and they understand why you won't give up. Sunscreen is such a part of the daily routine and your child is likely to tolerate it as one of the things they have to live with, like brushing their teeth.
11 - 16 years: Professional sunscreen applicant
"I've done it."
Your child does a better job than you anyway, and has finished putting on their sunblock before you spread out the picnic rug.
17 - 20 years: Fake news stage
As a newly fledged adult your offspring are unlikely to have a high priority for sunblock. With their newfound self assurance and inimitable cool, they can't quite believe that the sun can really do them any damage.
21 - 28 years: Weary expert
"Of course I did."
After a decent sunburn or two sunblock is enlisted as a preventative along with hats and shirts that cover them up more. No point ruining a perfectly good music festival, snowboarding trip or vineyard tour with painful sunburns.
28+ years: On the receiving end
"Just... stay STILL!"
Your beautiful mokopuna arrive and begin teaching your children lessons on patience, heartbreak and love like they've never known. As well as lessons on how tricky it can be to apply sunblock to small wriggly people!
Top 10 tips for sunscreen application on children
1. Choose a sunscreen that is 40SPF+ for a decent level of UV protection. A sunscreen rated SPF 40 is certified to block out 97.5% of the harmful UVB rays that cause sun burn, which can lead to malignant melanomas.
2. Choose a sunblock with a smooth 'easy on' glide factor so you don't need to go back over the same area again and again to get good even coverage.
3. Look for a clear finish natural sunscreen so you and your children don't look like sandy mime artists all summer.
4. Always use a mineral sunblock on kids as the physical barrier it provides creates instant sun protection, whereas chemical formulas can take up to half an hour to provide protection and in the harsh New Zealand sun, this is often long enough to be badly burnt. Not only that, but many 'supermarket sunblocks' contain some really dangerous chemicals.
5. Begin with areas that annoy your child the least, like legs and arms, and finish off with the face, neck and ears so you can say 'last bit, almost done!'
6. As soon as you can, engage your child in applying their own sunblock - encourage them to count the areas off a list of eight 'hot spots' - Feet, legs, arms, chest, shoulders, neck, ears, face.
7. Pop a sunblock into your child's schoolbag. Write their name on it and tell them this is their own special sunblock that they can share with their friends to help keep everyone safe.
8. Remember, Vitamin D is great for us in limited amounts, but sun exposure ages and damages skin over the long term. Most dangerous are Burn Events where our skin is burnt enough to turn pink and painful. Burn Events are the biggest contributors to malignant melanomas, and children's delicate skin is most susceptible to burn events which can lead to fatal melanoma years later.
Protecting your child from sun burn while they are young can literally save their life.
9. If your child has eczema or reactive skin, have a read of our guide to sunblock and eczema care here.
10. Sunblock is wonderful, but hats and clothing can provide great sun protection, as can playing under the shady trees, in tents, or inside during the highest UV times.
Check out our natural mineral sunscreen
This NZ made natural sunscreen for Face & Body with Kawakawa + Calendula is safe for sensitive skin, silky to apply, rubs in beautifully with minimal whitening and offers effective mineral sun protection. It meets the Australian & New Zealand Sunscreen Standard, AS/NZS 2604:2021 and SPF40 means that the sunscreen offers an impressive 97.5% protection from UVB rays.
Our natural sunscreen is also made with non-nano, marine friendly mineral sun filters and won the award for Best Coral Safe Sun Care Product at the Beauty Shortlist 2023 Awards.
"So light and spreads well (don't need a lot it seems), no white cast, smells nice, not shiny or greasy like other face sunscreens I've used. Amazing! Will definitely keep using." - Leah
"Really excited to have found a NZ made product that is sun smart, reef friendly, good for you and the environment!! Wow, just wow!!"- Julie
"This sunblock is brilliant! It goes on so smooth and creamy you don’t have to really rub it in, it absorbs quickly and leaves skin so soft all day, it didn’t go sticky or greasy at all and best of all I did not get sunburnt! I only applied once too. 5/5 from me." - Rachel