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Save Your Skin, continued

The tender skin of children is especially vulnerable to sun damage and according to the American Academy of Dermatologists, children should have on a sunblock or sunscreen with an SPF of 20 or higher. Make sure you cover any area of a child's body that will be uncovered at the beach or pool at least one-half hour before going there.

Some sun care products are geared towards children. Among them is Bullfrog's For Kids Gel. It has an SPF of 36 and "A Fun Watermelon Fragrance." Coppertone offers Water Babies with SPFs of 30 and 45 and Kids Sunblock Lotion (SPFs between 15 and 40). Baby Faces from Hawaiian Tropic has an SPF of 50 and a "super gentle formula."

The latest innovation is Coppertone's Colorblock, with a disappearing purple sunblock that has an SPF of 30. The purple coloring allows you to see exactly where you applied the sunblock. That's a handy feature for a parent trying to protect a squirming kid. Besides applying sun care protection, parents should have children wear hats and light, cool clothing before and after they enter water.

They do not protect the skin from the sun though. Island peoples used such things as annato oil (also called roucou oil) which leaves the skin with a reddish tint and coconut oil to lend moisture and a pleasant odor to the skin. Coppertone Gold has two new oils on the market: Exotic Oil and Dry Oil. Banana Boat offers Dark Tanning Ultimate Oil, Dark Tanning Oil with an SPF of 4, and Protective Tanning Oil (SPF: 8).

Mists and accelerators include: Hawaiian Tropics' Herbal Tanning Mist and Australian Gold's Dark Tanning Accelerator Spray with natural oils and Vitamin E. To achieve a tan without burning your skin is possible. You can do this by protecting your skin at the beach with a sunblock or strong sunscreen and then applying a self-tanner.

A self-tanner may be a spray, creme or gel. These products give you varying degrees of the tan you always wanted without harming your skin. Several products can help you achieve this: Neutrogena's Sunless Tanning Spray, Bain de Soleil's Sunless Tanning Creme (available in Light, Dark and Deep Dark), Hawaiian Tropic's Self-Tanning Milk, and Banana Boat's Sunless Tanning Creme. One, Australian Gold's Alpha Hydroxy Sunless Tanning Gel contains alpha hydroxy, an ingredient that rejuvenates skin.

These products are applied to the skin and leave a smooth "tan" in as little as two to three hours. A key phrase in the promotions of these products is "non-streaking."

Be aware though that a self-tanner does not protect you from the sun unless it also contains sunscreens.

Other Factors
One day, it might be a little cloudy while you are on your vacation. Don't take this as a sign that you don't have to apply sun protectant. Indeed, 80% of the sun's UV rays penetrate clouds.

Certain medicines, including antibio
After Sun Skin Care

Once you have been on the beach or at the pool soaking in Florida's sun, you need to take care of your skin. The sun and subsequent sweat production can deplete your skin of needed water.

  • Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids and apply a moisturizer to your skin.
  • If you or your children are the unwilling recipients of a nasty sunburn, there are many products that can help alleviate the associated pain and put the skin on the path to healing.
    Solarcaine's Aloe Extra Sunburn Pain Relief Mist is excellent. Spraying some of this on a bad sunburn immediately helps alleviate the pain due to its lidocaine ingredient. It also helps the skin begin to heal because it contains aloe vera. Aloe vera is a plant extract that is nature's healing tool. It is found in a number of products designed to help heal sunburns. If you just want something you can gently rub on, you may opt for Solarcaine's Aloe Extra Burn Relief Gel or Hawaiian Tropic's Cool Aloe I.C.E. Burn Relief which "naturally cools & soothes burns."
    For those just wanting to moisturize, there is NO-AD's Tan Preserver and Skin Moisturizer which is hypoallergenic with aloe vera, cocoa butter, collagen & Vitamin E. Banana Boat also offers an after sun lotion which is "ultra moisturizing and soothing."
  • Also available is Fruit of the Earth's Aloe Vera 100% Pure Gel.
  • Be sure not to scrub the skin with washcloths or soap as these may further irritate the skin and delay healing.
  • If a child gets badly burned, you may want to call a doctor.
tics such as tetracycline, diuretics and birth control pills, make your skin more sensitive to sun damage. Also check for allergies to any of the chemicals in sun care products by applying them to a forearms' inside. Some manufacturers list "Hypoallergenic" as a reason to buy their products. At one time, an ingredient called PABA was included in many sunblocks or sunscreens. However, many people were allergic to PABA, so you often see "PABA Free" listed as a selling incentive.

Many sunscreens advertise themselves as being "waterproof" or "sweatproof." Though these characteristics are definitely a plus for swimmers and children, do not be lured into a false sense of security by these words. The products are not foolproof; some may come off during swimming. As a result, the FDA is lobbying to indicate on labels that products are water-resistant (protection up to 40 minutes) or very water-resistant (protection up to 80 minutes). Therefore, it is worthwhile to reapply sunscreen at least once during an eight-hour day in the sun, especially on kids.

A new factor that may influence you to buy a product are the words "Sand-Resistant." These products claim that you will not have a "sandpaper" back when you walk back to your hotel.

Unfortunately, beaches sometimes host bugs. For those wanting to combat both the sun and insects, maybe Coppertone's Bug Sun is a perfect match. The SPF for the kids' product is 30, while the adults' product has an SPF of 15.

How a sun care product is packaged may also affect your buying decisions. They mostly come in plastic bottles but the latest innovation -- the sticks -- are a good idea since you don't have to worry about the bottle's lid popping open in your beach bag and the gooey liquid spilling onto that nice lunch you packed.

Sun Care Products Do Work
It's easy to wonder if these products work, but in my experience they do. And remember that Florida's sun is tropical. So, while in the Sunshine State, have fun in the sun... but be prepared.

Dru J. Murray is a freelance writer/editor who writes articles and poetry.Though she studied biology, her love of journalism led her to work for magazines. Raised in Montana, she has lived in California and Texas and now resides in Coral Gables, Florida.