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I scream, you scream, we all scream for….sunscreen?

While the first day of summer is still just around the corner, most of us have been basking in the warm weather for weeks now. I don’t know about you guys, but our winter was pretty miserable and I’m soaking up the 90 degree sunshine like a lizard that was just removed from a freezer. What can I say, I’m an Arizona girl living it up in North Carolina.

If you’re like me, you had to do the ol’ closet switcheroo (or, like me, multiple times because our weather was bipolar and just when I thought it was warm, it would snow and I’d have to dig the freshly packed away winter clothes out again), buy the kids new swimsuits and sandals, and plan vacations and trips to the pool/beach/lake. And of course, buy some sunscreen. Good ol’ sunscreen. It’s like a little tube with a superhero cape, standing between our skin and the dastardly deeds of melanoma. So what is sunscreen exactly? How does it work? What should we look for in a sunscreen? Let me, in my warm weather lizard giddiness, try to answer those questions for you.

First, let’s take a look at what exactly sunscreen protects us from. UVA and UVB are two different types of ultraviolet radiation that reaches our atmosphere from the sun. You can’t see them with your eyes, but they can fry up your eyeballs like a couple of seasoned eggs. UVA and UVB both are different wavelengths and act differently by nature, but are both equally damaging. UVA rays penetrate deeper and are responsible for most skin aging and wrinkles and is usually responsible for the start of skin cancers by damaging the DNA in our skin. UVB rays are shorter in wavelength, and cause more damage to the surface of the skin (think the redness of sunburn).

The sun's gnarly side.

The sun’s gnarly side.

Sunscreen can be protective either chemically, physically, or both. Chemical ingredients in sunscreen absorb the evil rays and prevent them from penetrating your skin. Examples of these chemicals are avobenzone and oxybenzone. Physical ingredients actually cause the rays to bounce off the skin and usually are present as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Most sunscreens on the market contain a mixture of both, or “broad spectrum”. However, according to the Environmental Working Group, chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone are potential hormone disruptors, have a high risk of allergic reaction and have been found in the breastmilk of nursing mothers. Some people may prefer to use mineral sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide instead, which can be harder to apply and leaves you looking like a snowman. Whatever you choose, it’s probably best to stick with the lotion/cream/stick sunscreens as the spray sunscreens are more likely to not be thoroughly applied and can also be inhaled. And remember, never apply sunscreen to babies under 6 months old.

This article is about summertime, but it's also important to mention that it's important to wear sunscreen year round. Sun reflecting off snow can be particularly damaging.

This article is about summertime, but it’s also important to mention that it’s important to wear sunscreen year round. Sun reflecting off snow can be particularly damaging.

So what are you looking for in a sunscreen besides the type of ingredient you are most comfortable with? The sun protection factor, or SPF. SPF is a “rating” per say, that indicates how long it will take UVB (not UVA! Remember, those are responsible for the destruction under the superficial layer of skin) to redden your skin. So SPF 15 basically means it will take you an additional 15 minutes to burn. SPF 50 is recommended, and all sunscreens should be applied every few hours, more if you are sweating or swimming. Recently the FDA revised their rules regarding the wording and description on sunscreens, including banning the words “water proof”, although you may see “water resistant”. This means the sunscreen tends to stay on a bit longer in water than others, but you still need to reapply at least every 2 hours.

Sunglasses protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun. Remember, you only get one pair of eyes!

Sunglasses protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun. Remember, you only get one pair of eyes!

 

In addition to applying sunscreen, try to stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm, wear protective hats and SPF clothing, don’t burn, don’t go to tanning beds, always keep babies out of direct sunlight, wear sunglasses that specifically say they contain UV filters, and eat lots of ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream. CarSeatBlog orders. Happy summer!!

How to Go Places

Summer is here, and for many people that means road trips with the family!

In this day and age of minivans and large SUVs, packing up the car isn’t usually an issue. Navigation systems and smart phones mean people hardly ever get lost, at least not for long. But what was it like in the 1950s?

In 1954 Chevrolet produced a video with an appropriately kitschy title, “How to Go Places,” that gave useful tips on taking road trips. If you want to take your next trip ’50s-style, mark up that map, and don’t rely on strangers for directions!

Bonus: You’ll learn how this family fit three-across in the back seat. (Hint: It doesn’t involve child restraints! Or seatbelts!)

Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Britax Releases Anti-Rebound Bar for Canadian G4 Convertible Carseats

20140530_155521_resizedWoohoo! After stalking my mail lady all week awaiting the arrival of the anti-rebound bar (ARB) available upon request to all registered Britax G4 convertible carseat owners in Canada, it finally arrived while I was outside enjoying the sunshine (full review of G4s here).  I’m impressed. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and straightforward to install.  From my very brief test it takes up a tiny bit more front-to-back space (maybe 3/4″-1″ at most, quite possibly less if a person was motivated to gain that space back by compressing the vehicle seat back with a lot of enthusiasm), but the benefits far outweigh that minor issue. It’s already a very compact seat so that 3/4″ isn’t likely to be a make-or-break situation for most people.

20140530_193625_resizedWhy is it such great news? Until now,  Canadian G4 seats must be tethered rear-facing, a marked difference from the G3 seats, and also from American seats (Canada has an anti-rebound standard in our testing process, the US does not).  Britax responded to concerns from techs and parents not keen on having to rear-face tether, and this ARB removes that requirement. In Canada we may only tether Swedish-style (down to a fixed point forward of the seat, using the provided D-ring) if the vehicle manufacturer expressly permits it, and to my knowledge, none do. So Aussie-style it is, meaning straps in the way when loading and unloading, and potential incompatibilities if the tether anchor is too far away. Britax does make a tether extender but in the moment that doesn’t work for a lot of people, and the development of the ARB is a much better solution in my opinion, both as a tech and a parent.  Please note that these will not be shipped automatically to current owners.  You must contact Britax Canada at 1-888-427-4829 to request one free of charge.  Please be advised that supplies are limited and may be subject to shipping delays.

We hope to have more information soon on if/when the ARB may begin to ship with Canadian models or if Britax will approve the ARB for use on American G4 seats (Roundabout, Marathon, Boulevard, Pavilion, and Advocate) convertible carseats.

As my three year old would say…”two thumbs up wide” Britax, well done!

See a full tour including attaching and detaching it (easy!) here:

 

 

To those who have

fallen for us,

we salute you.