Your cart
Close Alternative Icon
Free Shipping if you order only $400 or more! Only available in Canada. Free Shipping if you order only $400 or more! Only available in Canada.

Sunscreen + the tactile defensive = an unsunny combo 🌞 Part 1

Arrow Thin Left Icon Arrow Thin Right Icon
Sunscreen + the tactile defensive = an unsunny combo 🌞 Part 1

Most of us see summer as a time of relaxation and fun. Some, instead, see it as switching and/or increasing stressors.

In addition to the normal seasonal adjustments that people on the autism spectrum or those who have sensory processing disorder (SPD) have, there’s a hallmark of summer that can make sunny days torturous.

The need for sunblock or sunscreen.

The smell of it, it’s application, and the sensation once it’s on, can make people with tactile defensiveness want to bury themselves in the basement for the season.

Today, in part 1, we’ve gathered the basic info on sunscreen or sunblock that we all need to know but most of us don’t. At least I didn’t. 

To misuse Australia’s safer-in-the-sun quote, Slip into a comfy position, Slap on a smile, and Slop a big drink of hydrating water. Then, let’s continue.


Most of us see summer as a time of relaxation and fun. Some, instead, see it as switching or increasing stressors.

In addition to the normal seasonal changes that people with autism/those on the spectrum or who have sensory processing disorder (SPD) need to adjust to, there’s a hallmark of summer that can make sunny days torturous.


Learning more about sunscreens and sunblock.

1. Sunscreen vs sunblock. I used to use the terms sunscreen and sunblock interchangeably, but now I know there’s a difference. A big difference.

Sunscreen works via a chemical reaction that absorbs the sun’s rays.


  •             Easy to apply.        


  •             Needs to be applied 15 minutes before going out into the sun.
  •             Needs to be reapplied frequently, especially if in the water or sweating.
  •             Active ingredients degrade over time, especially in the sun.
  •            The chemicals are absorbed into the skin, which means the hormone disrupting chemicals are also absorbed.
  •            Children don’t have as many filters so the undesirable chemicals will have a bigger impact.
  •            Some people are allergic to the chemicals and can experience a variety of skin reactions.


Sunblock works by creating a physical block (mineral) block between the sun and the skin using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.


  •             Doesn’t need to be put on 15 minutes prior beforehand.
  •             Doesn’t contain chemicals that are absorbed into the skin.
  •             Doesn’t need to be reapplied as frequently.
  •             Is kinder to water life, and our bodies as well.
  •             UVA and UVB protection


  •             Difficult to rub in (although that’s been improving).
  •             Can leave a white hew on the skin.


Warning for both: We don’t apply enough. A nickel-size amount for the face and about 5 ml/1 tsp/body part – each arm and leg etc is needed.


2. Forms of sunscreens/blocks

Spray, stick, and lotion are available.

Usually the sprays are much pricier for the number of uses, and we only spray ¼ to ½ the amount needed. We’re also more likely to miss a spot and inhale the aerosol, which is unhealthy, especially for children.

Lotions are more hydrating as well.


3. Broad spectrum protection (UVA and UVB)

UVA rays penetrate farther into skin than UVB rays, and are a leading cause of wrinkles and a cause of, or major contributor to, every type of skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate glass, while UVB rays do not.

UVB rays cause sunburns and give us vit D (more on vit D and autism next week). A strong sunblock can prevent a maximum of 99% of vit D intake from the sun, leading to vit D defiency.

There are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays.

Check sunscreen labels and look for ‘Broad Spectrum’. Often only UVB is blocked.


4. Remember to stay hydrated, preferably with water. However, if drinking soft drinks then you might enjoy our durable Snap Capps to keep your drinks bubbly and wasp-free. Also, easier to drink from.

During this next week, I hope the weather, those around you, and yourself are sunny.

Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,


P.S. We are trying something new – bringing you over to the website. It’ll prevent any blogpost/comment confusion and make chatting together easier.

The name and message you enter will show but your email will not.

Also, there’ll be a delay because the message needs to be approved. Some Russian ne'er-do-wells have my website on their list and post up to 120 comments/day. None of them appropriate. Hopefully, they’ll grow tired of the game eventually or their entire list of emails will be blocked.

Please help by testing the system. We were having a double-posting issue but think it’s fixed (famous last words).

What do you think of the new system? Yay? Or Nay?

If you can’t think of anything to say, then please copy and paste the quote below. 

Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.
Helen Keller 

Comments on this post (2)

  • May 24, 2020

    You are ahead of my writing, Natalie! That option is part of next week’s post.

    Years ago, I heard about some of the chemicals in sunscreen and stopped using it 99% of the time. My strategy is shade if I’m out in the heat of the day, and gather vit D the rest of the time.

    I also have the luxury of having skin that tans easily.

    And I would love it if hots days were more of a problem here. There aren’t enough hot days in summer to please my body and soul. 😎

    — Diane

  • May 22, 2020

    Our family is likely a bit unique in this, but here in Alberta, we don’t use any lotions or potion sun protection other than hats/long sleeves/pants when needed. We live on a farm and spend many hours outside everyday, year round and we don’t get sun burnt. We do use common sense when temps are extremely hot (rare! Lol). Perhaps we’ve been blessed with a skin tone that is more favourable to sun exposure? But also, our ancestors never relied on it. We make choices with that in mind whenever possible and think objectively When making decisions about what goes in or on our body. Unfortunately, I have been frowned upon at a couple community events when I declined the communal sunblock for my family.

    — Natalie

Leave a comment