Image: Sunuva UV protective swimwear and beachwear summer 2014
Did you know? Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show that skin cancer is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK following a huge surge in cases in the last 10 years. How well we look after our skin in our childhood and early adult years can have a major impact on our chance of developing the disease.
Our skin is most sensitive to the sun as babies and toddlers (although we should practice safe sun behaviour at all ages – see our feature on safe ways to tan), so those early years are crucial. Cancer Research UK reports that sunburn as a child can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life, and around two young adults (ages 15-34) a day in the UK are diagnosed with malignant melanoma.
There’s no question that looking after our little ones’ skin is important, but anyone who’s gone on holiday with kids knows that getting them to stand still for repeated applications of sunscreen can be a real challenge. And a recent report from specialist kids’ UV swimwear brand Sunuva showed that many parents are confused by sunscreen labelling and are often not applying it thoroughly or regularly enough.
This is where UV protective swim and beach clothing can play a real role in keeping your kids safe in the sun, if used in conjunction with sunscreen and sensible sun exposure.
Why bother with UV clothing? After all, you could just make sure your child wears a T-shirt when they play outside. However, while most clothing offers a degree of sun protection, this varies from fabric to fabric and you just don’t know how much UV radiation is penetrating a garment. As a rule of thumb, paler, lighter weight fabrics with an open weave (the type you are more likely to wear in summer!) will offer less protection than heavier, darker fabrics with a dense weave, but within that there are huge variations. Choosing a piece of clothing with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating can give you the peace of mind that it has been designed and tested to reduce penetration by the sun’s harmful rays.
While UV protective clothing and swimwear is becoming more common, it can still be hard to find, so to give you a head start, here are some great brands for kids.
Sunuva was launched in 2007 by mums Emily Cohen and Sabrina Naggar who decided to create a line of stylish UPF swim and beachwear for kids after becoming frustrated by the lack of suitable styles on the market. And since its launch it has attracted many a celebrity fan, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham, Madonna and Coleen Rooney. The brand’s garments, which range from swimwear, floatsuits and rash vests to T-shirts, shirts and shorts and dresses, have a UPF rating of 50+ and stop up to 97% of the sun’s harmful rays.
We love, from left to right: Boy’s Scuba Swim Shorts, £37-£38, sizes 6-12 months to 13-14 years; Girls’ Ditsy Floatsuit, £39, sizes 1-2 years to 3-4 years; Girls’ Moroccan Tiles Swimsuit, £37-£38, sizes 1-2 years to 13-14 years.
Lion in the Sun
Lion in the Sun has been making UV protective swimwear and clothing since 1999, using Italian fabrics with a UPF rating of 50+ and Oeko-Tex certified, which means they are free of any harmful substances. The range covers swimwear and clothing for kids as well as men and women and encompasses swimsuits and swim shorts, sun suits, wetsuits and rash vests plus cover ups and accessories such as sun hats and sunglasses.
We love, from left to right: Girls’ Surf Combo in wild rose, £25, sizes 2 years to 5-6 years; Boy’s Board Shorts in red, £24.50, sizes 5-6 years to 13-14 years; Girls’ UV suit in lagoon print. £24.90, sizes 2 years to 11-12 years.
KoolSun is yet another UV clothing brand for kids set up by mums, offering a selection of sun suits, swimwear, wetsuits, sun hats, beach robes and accessories. The focus is on practical, comfortable styles for toddlers and young children in colours and prints kids will love.
We love, from left to right: Kids’ Board Shorts, £14.99, sizes 2-3 years to 15-16 years; Girls’ Hibiscus floral pink swim skirt, £11.99, sizes 2-3 years to 9-10 years; Reversible bucket hat, £11.99, XS-L. All from Surfdome.com.
Sun Togs is a UK online retailer of UV protective swimwear and beach clothing, stocking brands such as Sun Busters, Zoggs, Koolsun, Tuga and TWF. It’s a good place to go for a range of UV swimwear and accessories as well as rainwear and skiwear.
We love, from left to right: Sun Busters Girls’s UV swim suit, £26.95, sizes 2-3 years to 8-10 years; Boys’ Zoggs Golden Bay Hip Racer Shorts, £7.95, 2-3 years to 6-7 years; Girls’ Tuga 3-Piece UV Swim Set, £29.95, sizes 4-12 years.