We love being outside on family vacations. In summer, however, this presents two problems: 1) Powerwoman has made the girls completely neurotic about ticks, and 2) It can be challenging to minimize the girls’ exposure to the sun.
The first problem is somewhat easy to remedy—in addition to warning the kids not to run through tall grass, we do regular tick checks to make sure the kids haven’t picked up any of nature’s hitchhikers.
The second problem, however, has proven to be more difficult.
Pretty much since we became parents, Powerwoman and I have been maniacs about applying and reapplying (and reapplying again) sunscreen when we’re out and about with the girls. It’s a constant struggle, since we spend a lot of time in beachy destinations, and neither of them enjoys the sunscreen process very much.
All of that changed recently with SunFriend, a new tool that takes the form of a bracelet and measures a child’s exposure to harmful UVA+B rays. A friend who does PR for the company recently sent me a bracelet to try out. After a few uses, I am happy to report positive results, and find myself wondering how we ever managed without this sort of technology previously.
Think of the thing like a FitBit that measures sun exposure. You can set it to any skin sensitivity level. Over the course of a day, the device measures how much UV/sun exposure you have; when you’ve reached your optimal exposure levels, the LED lights flash, effectively warning you BEFORE you burn.
(Once the lights flash, the manufacturer suggests you either apply SPF 50 lotion, put on long-sleeved clothing, or go inside.)
I tried the device on both kids over the course of two different outdoor adventures close to our Northern California home. Since L has a much darker complexion than R, I set it for different skin types each time. The day L used it, she was able to log about four hours in broad daylight before her lights flashed. The day R used it—an overcast day—she was able to log four hours.
Both girls enjoyed the experience, saying it was “neat” to have a sun reader on their wrists. (Of course L, who is a bit more anxious overall, freaked out once she reached her optimal levels, and refused to go outside again.)
Other benefits of SunFriend IMHO: It’s waterproof. It doesn’t get too hot in the sun. It’s seemingly indestructible. And it’s super-easy to read—even for kids.
While I don’t think this bracelet is the end-all and be-all of sun management techniques, it certainly has given us a fresh perspective on how to minimize overexposure to the sun in our clan. We’re excited to take the device on more test drives during vacations this spring. If you’re looking for an alternative to constantly lathering your kids with sunscreen, I suggest you give it a try, too.