Growing up in New Zealand my summer days were filled with lazy days at the beach, sunbathing on the hot concrete and running under the ice-cold sprinkler in the back garden.
Such simple pleasures, but – more than 30 years later – the memories still make me smile.
Nothing makes me happier than watching my own kids squealing and laughing hysterically as they cannonball into our local pool, and squirt each other with the garden hose.
Hailing from Down Under left me with another legacy – an almost obsessive approach to sun care. I was a teen when a stonking great hole was discovered in the sky’s protective ozone layer (caused by man-made chlorofluorocarbons drifting up into the atmosphere and destroying the ozone molecules), and it was hovering right over New Zealand.
The sunlight was harsh in the Antipodes anyway, and with the ozone hole stripped away the rays became absolutely lethal. You could literally get burned red raw in 20 minutes, which was not just painful and inconvenient (the next few days were spent gingerly hiding away in cool, darkrooms), but also dangerous.
It’s now believed that just one incidence of sunburn as a child can directly contribute to skin cancer in adulthood (which makes me full-body cringe when I remember how I used to baste myself in baby oil before sunbathing – like a chicken on a spit). Now we know better, it’s really really important to keep our little ones sun safe.
I’m already a sunscreen maniac (I’m THAT mum screeching: ‘Rub it into the back of your neck…. don’t forget the tops of your ears!’), so when I was emailed by the MARU swimwear brand, asking if we wanted to try out something from their range of kids’ swimsuits with uv protection, I was instantly intrigued by their innovative high-tech fabrics with a UPF50 rating.
What this means is that the swimsuit itself blocks more than 97.5% of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching that vulnerable skin underneath. So, when teamed with a good dollop of traditional suntan lotion, that’s a level of protection that satisfies even me.
But, let’s be real – it’s not JUST the practical side you consider when choosing a new swimsuit. My girls are coming up to nine and 11 years old, and they’re becoming more conscious of style and fashion, and how things look on them. I could find them the most protective swimsuit on the planet, but if it didn’t also look good they’re just not going to wear it.
Luckily, Maru combines safety AND style, with a range of fun and colourful designs.
Given the choice of their entire girls’ spring/summer selection (a newer range has just been released), it took me a good half an hour to narrow it down to just two styles I knew the girls would love.
I loved the cute cut-out backs, which looked adorable and added a fun twist to the design
The vibrant colours looked gorgeous on their newly (and safely) acquired summer tans; you can’t really tell from the photos, but the blue one is actually dotted with glittery flecks that shimmer in the sunshine.
The fabric itself was thick and stretchy and was obviously great quality, and the suits fit really snugly, making them perfect for a casual splash about, or some serious swim training.
FYI: I also got a swimsuit to try out – I won’t scare you with photos of me wearing it – but it has control panels across the side and tummy that gently pull in all the bits that need a little extra – ahem – assistance, and it’s genuinely the most flattering suit I’ve worn since having kids.
To keep the suits in tip-top condition, the Maru team recommends rinsing as soon as possible after wearing, washing at a low temperatures and allowing them to dry naturally. Another big no-no (which I didn’t realise) is not to scrunch your suit up in your towel, as this can distort the fabric fibres and cause them to become misshapen. Instead, gently squeeze out the extra water and flatten them out to dry.
Try not to get suntan lotion on the fabric (apply liberally before you get dressed), but most importantly – have fun!
• wondering how to keep your kids busy during the summer? Read our review of Barracudas holiday camps.