Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunscreen for kids and adults: Gran Canaria field-test

On our recent family vacation in the Canary Islands, the weather on the island of Gran Canaria was wonderful: warm, and sunny every single day. This meant I had ample opportunity to do some field-testing of various sunscreens using myself, my kids, and occasionally my husband as more or less willing test subjects.

Here are some of my findings:

Coppertone's continuous spray still rules
On this latest trip, I tried out some Neutrogena sunscreens: one spray and one cream. Both were good, seemed to stay on well even if the kids were in the water a lot, and neither product caused any breakouts or stung anybody's eyes.

However, the Neutrogena spray did need to be rubbed into skin rather than just applied by spraying. This is not always easy to do when you're at the beach and you need to re-apply sunscreen on kids who are more or less covered in sand. My champion in this spray-on-sunscreen-for-kids category therefore remains Coppertone's no-rub, continuous spray.

One note on this: I could not find any Coppertone sunscreens in Gran Canaria. If I go on another beach vacation over in Europe, I might bring a small supply of my own just to be sure I have it on hand. 

Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer sunscreens are awesome for the face
This is my new favorite sunscreen for my own face. It looks kind of white on the skin when you first apply it, but after a few seconds it absorbs without leaving a trace. This is one of the few sunscreens I've found that a) does not sting my eyes, b) does not have too much scent, and c) does not make my face look oily and shiny.

It also seemed to stay on like few other sunscreens I've tried. I'd apply this stuff in the morning, before we headed out, and then usually re-apply after being in the water. However, a couple of days I totally forgot to re-apply it when we were at the beach (too busy applying sunscreen on the two moving targets, aka the kids), but I still did not get burned.

Other good sunscreens used on this trip
I love the Banana Boat brand because it is often reasonably priced and because they have some good fragrance free options. Their water proof and "ultra sweatproof" Sport Sunblock SPF15 was fantastic.

I also used their SPF50 sunblock stick. It does taste a little funny when you put it on your lips, but it works good for lips, noses, ears and even baby cheeks in a pinch.

I know SPF15 is the minimum recommended for sunscreens, but yes, I did occasionally use an SPF6 and it was Hawaiian Tropics. My issue with this sunscreen is mainly the smell. Sure, it smells kind of good, all sweet and tropical, but it can feel a little much at times. However, it feels good on the skin and even that low SPF  did keep me from burning when I used it on arms and legs. And at the beach at least, no one complained about the smell.

I also used Safeway's own store-brand kids' sunscreen, SPF30. It was easy to apply and seemed to stay on well even when the kids were in the pool or ocean, but the smell was not good. Too... something. It was cheap and it worked, but that smell just didn't do it for me or the kids.

One good sunscreen I bought in the Canary Islands was Nivea's Kids Pure & Sensitive lotion. It's 50SPF, waterproof, fragrance-free and all that good stuff. Not sure if it's available in North America, but it's definitely a good product. Fragrance-free is always a plus in my opinion, and it was easy to apply as well.

Bring it or buy it?
I brought quite a lot of sunscreen with me from home on this trip, and I was glad I did. Since we are a family of beach bums that were visiting an island with wonderful beaches, we went through a lot of various sunscreens. And while most things were very cheap to buy in the Canary Islands, sunscreen was not. In some cases, prices were significantly higher than what I pay for the same or similar brands here in Canada. 

I'm guessing one reason is that many sunscreens are imported there. Another reason may be that merchants figure it's a good product to have a high markup on, considering all the tourists that can't go to the beach without it. I'll definitely consider bringing a larger supply with me from home if I head over there again. (Not that such a trip is in the cards anytime soon, unfortunately!)

You can read more about my thoughts and opinions on various sunscreens here.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I don't have kids but I have my niece and 2 nephews coming to stay with me for the rest of the summer so I have been looking up things like the best sunscreen for kids to use and what to do if they do get burned. This was very helpful, thanks so much for sharing.


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