Cabana Life: Sun-Protective Clothing and Accessories

06/07/2009 at 10:00 AM ET

“Did you know the average cotton t-shirt has an SPF equivalent of 5?”  That message greeted me on the website of Cabana Life when I logged on to figure out if I really needed to be one of those moms who outfitted their child in a swimsuits that looked more 1929 than 2009. An SPF of 5 seems pretty ridiculous for something they are wearing every day in the strong summer sun… and no, I hadn’t known that.

Cabana Life was founded by a woman and mother who, diagnosed with skin cancer at age 26, decided to do something about the options available to stylish moms and children looking to be safe in the summer.  The clothing is more expensive than the average children’s bathing suits, but the product you are getting far exceeds that.

Like the three other girls’ styles, the Rashguard 3-Piece Set ($68) that my daughter tried included a half-sleeve swim top (it came up to her elbows), plus a bikini top for underneath (perhaps for indoor swimming) and a boy-shorts style bottom. Unlike most rashguards on the market, Cabana Life’s four styles for girls are extremely feminine. All evoke the style of tunics, one has embroidery, two are prints. My daughter must have been comfortable in the set because she wanted to stay in the bathing suit long after we were inside and away from the water.

Of the eight styles for boys ($58-68), two have long-sleeve swim tops, while six have half-sleeves. Some of the tops have zippered necks to make them easier to get on and off (especially important when wet) and two of the styles’ trunks are especially long — calf-length instead of just below. My son tried the Ship Stripe Swim Set ($60), which comes with a zippered long-sleeve swim top and the shorter knee-length swim trunks.  He loved the bottom but would have been more comfortable if the swim top had shorter sleeves, perhaps the half-sleeve length like the girls’ styles.

The sets come smartly packaged in a plastic zip top bag that can be reused in a variety of ways. You can also purchase matching one-piece and tankini suits for girls ($50-54) and a sporty navy blue half-sleeve swim top ($36). The hats and accessories are a plus for matching, thereby encouraging the child to keep a hat on for a whole day, or a cover-up when they are out of the water.  The cover-ups are available in terry, woven and knit fabric so chances are, you’ll find something you like. Cabana Life also make cover-ups and hats (but not swimsuits) for women.

Overall, the concept makes sense, the product that arrived was very high quality and made me feel better about watching my kids outside in the hot sun for an entire afternoon. I flinched when I considered the cost of buying a few sets for each of my kids, but quickly remembered that anything I can do to prevent my kids from getting skin cancer while still enabling them to enjoy the outdoors is worth any minimal cost increase. Plus it means that much less skin to worry about slathering sunscreen on!

— Lisa

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Silvana on

cute stuff!

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