Every morning when Katie gets dressed for the day, I remind her to apply sunscreen to her face. She uses one of those spongy makeup applicators to avoid the mess on her hands, and spreads a squirt of sunscreen around her face. Sometimes she does this grudgingly, sometimes she does it without much fuss.
I decided to show her WHY I ask her to do this every day.
She could see her skin, and laughed at how her teeth glow in the black light. Then I held the black light up to my own face to show her the sun damage I have underneath the top layer of my skin. I can’t believe I’m posting this photo on my blog for the world to see my blotchy skin, but it’s worth it to illustrate the results of the sun on my skin. (Sorry I couldn’t get an even better photo to show the damage!) Can you see the blotches to the left of the corner of my mouth? My skin looks dark in the areas of damage, and lighter around my mouth and nose. The reason it’s lighter around my nose and mouth is because I had already applied my daily sunscreen to my face, and these whiter areas are spots I missed or didn’t rub it in well.
Katie looked at me and said, “Oh, Mommy! Your face looks horrible!” Afraid she hurt my feelings, the sweet girl tried to retract her words but I used the moment to teach her. I told her when I was younger, I thought tan skin looked prettier and healthier than pale, white skin. I described how I used to sit in the sun to get tanned and burned, and how I thought tan lines from my swimsuit looked cool. Then I explained how doing that made my face end up with splotches and wrinkles. She looked shocked and disgusted.
Next, we got her sunscreen (which she hadn’t applied to her face yet) and I asked her to rub a small amount on her cheek. The spot with sunscreen was many shades darker than the rest of her face. This showed her how the sunscreen settles in to her skin and shields it from the sun damage. She thought that was pretty cool, and readily set to covering her entire face with sunscreen.
My last words were: “Now you understand why I want you to use sunscreen every day.” I think this illustration will keep whining to a minimum in the future.