Kids love the sun as much as adults do. But their skin is not as equipped to tolerate the harmful effects of the sun. While full-body covering clothes and shade can provide an extra layer of protection, swimming, and outdoor activities may require them to be out in the sun without these protective items.
Our best bet is to use sunscreen suited for children and babies. Choosing the best sunscreen for kids needs a little research as to the required SPF rating, ingredients, and other factors. The list below will guide you towards choosing the appropriate sunscreen for your child.
Top 10 Best Sunscreens For Kids
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen is chemical and paraben free. It has a unique packaging technology that turns into pink once it detects UVA rays. This unique feature serves as a reminder to apply the sunscreen on. Blue Lizard is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, so you can swim or sweat under the sun for a longer time. It has mineral-based and broad-spectrum SPF 30+ protection using 10% Zinc Oxide and 5% Titanium Dioxide.
- Broad spectrum coverage
- Zinc oxide and Titanium oxide gentle formulation
- Rich formulation yet easy to apply
- Best WEG Score of 1
- Leaves residue but will clear out after a while
- Not water resistant
Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ is the first sunscreen to have passed the Whole Foods Premium Care requirements. It contains no harmful chemicals, avobenzone, oxybenzone, or UV chemical absorbers. With highest allowed SPF 50+ and Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection for an ultimate shield from sun’s harmful rays.
Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes yet is non-oily and applies easily onto the skin.
- EWG rating of 1 assures its gentle and safe from harmful ingredients
- SPF 50+ for highest level of protection and water resistant up to 80 minutes
- PABA free
- Not fragrance-free
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion has Broad Spectrum SPF 50 which is effective in providing protection against UVA & UVB rays. Its special formulation is made from naturally sourced ingredients and is guaranteed tear-free so it’s gentle on the eyes. It is hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested, so it is safe on delicate skin. It is also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, so your kid will enjoy swimming for a longer time.
- Tear-free, safe and won’t irritate the eyes
- Especially for sensitive skin
- Water resistant for up to one and a half hours
- Easy to apply
- Leaves a white stain on clothing
All Good Kid’s Sunscreen SPF 30’s UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum formulation provides maximum protection for your baby’s delicate skin. Enjoy and have fun swimming for up to 80 minutes before re-applying. The lightweight formula makes it easy to apply onto the skin. The organic chamomile ingredient soothes the skin for that enhanced experience.
All Good Kid’s Sunscreen SPF 30 is mild and safe on the skin as it is environment-friendly as it is made with no harmful chemicals, preservatives, and additives.
- EWG best rating of 1
- Good balance UVA protection
- Made from ingredients that are considered safe and poses a low health concern
- Some customers say it does not apply easily
- Leaves a white streak unless you really rub thoroughly
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection has been clinically tested to be mild and helps lock in moisture without causing irritation on the skin. It is formulated with broad spectrum SPF 50 for superior protection from UV rays. The non-greasy texture is easy to apply and is water-proof for up to 80 minutes for long-lasting protection.
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection is made of naturally sourced zinc oxide and is fragrance, paraben, and phthalate free.
- Long lasting protection with its SPF 55+
- Contains oatmeal helps in hydration
- Mildly scented
- Non- greasy
- Water resistant for up to 80 minutes
- May clump or flake
- A bit pricey
- Can irritate the eyes
Baby Sunscreen Cream provides broad spectrum protection from UVA & UVB rays. Its formulation uses only natural mineral Zinc oxide with no harmful chemicals so it safe even for the most delicate skin. It is clinically tested and proven to be mild for babies and kids.
It is water resistant for at least 40 minutes. Made from an organic base of Sunflower Oil and Beeswax with Vitamin E for ultra-moisturizing effect. This product is pediatrician-tested & approved, as it is safe for kids.
- Biodegradable ingredients
- Easy to apply on the skin
- Does not leave greasy after-feel
- Only lasts for 40 minutes
Sunology Mineral Sunscreen Kids SPF 50 Broad Spectrum sunscreen is fragrance-free and safe for babies six months and older. It is infused with moringa oil and is free of harmful chemicals. It is top rated by EWG and is Leaping Bunny certified to be cruelty-free.
The moringa oil formulation keeps skin nourished and protected. It helps trap in moisture and keep skin radiantly looking. Sunology is environment-friendly as it is skin friendly too.
- Natura ingredients were used
- Gently non-sting formula
- Contains moringa essential oil for improved skin appearance
- Small quantity as compared to other similar products
BurnOut Kids Sunscreen SPF 35 provides UVA / UVB broad-spectrum protection. A sunscreen product that is both pediatricians and dermatologists recommended for its gentle formulation. It is hypoallergenic, non-greasy, chemical, and fragrance-free. It safe for the environment as it is biodegradable and guaranteed to be ocean-safe.
- Chemical, paraben, PABA, and petroleum free
- Contains rich antioxidants
- Feels sticky upon application
- A little expensive
California Baby SPF 30 + Sunscreen Lotion contains no fragrance, chemicals, gluten, soy, dairy, and PABA. It is made from organic & naturally sourced ingredients. It is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and is safe even on sensitive skin.
- Gentle on the eyes
- Non-stain formula
- Fragrance-free and hypo-allergenic
- A bit pricey
Goddess Garden Organics natural sunscreen lotion is a broad-spectrum lotion that is both gentle and powerful at protecting the skin from the sun. It is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Contained in an air powered spray bottle makes it handy and great for very active kids.
A powerful sunscreen that uses organic ingredients like coconut and sunflower oils. The mineral contents are not easily absorbed by the skin which reduces the risk of irritation. It is vegan and leaping bunny certified which attest to it being cruelty-free and an environmentally friendly product.
- Water-proof for 80 minutes
- Made from organic ingredients
- Biodegradable and free from paraben and phthalate
- The sprayer can get clogged and malfunction
- Some say that it’s difficult to apply
What Are Sunscreens?
Sunscreens are ultraviolet radiation blockers. This is accomplished by combining ingredients that help prevent the harmful rays of the sun from penetrating the skin, specifically UVA and UVB. Prolonged exposure to these UV radiations may result in premature aging and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
Sunscreens are typically lotions that are applied on the skin and re-applied as needed. This makes it necessary for sunscreens to be extremely gentle and free from harmful chemicals that may be absorbed by the skin, inhaled, or ingested.
Sunscreens can have mineral or chemical filters as the active ingredients. Sunscreens may use a combination of chemical filters such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octinoxate, octocrylene, and homosalate. While mineral sunscreens have zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, a combination of both, or a mix of zinc oxide and chemical filters. Of the most commonly used chemical filters, oxybenzone is believed to cause an allergic reaction on the skin.
How Can We Protect Baby’s Skin?
- Infants should be kept from sun exposure as much as possible. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are at its most dangerous between 10 AM and 4 PM. Keep the baby’ skin protected under a shade like trees or umbrella whenever you are outdoors.
- Sun protect you infant with lightweight, breathable, long-sleeved gowns or onesies. Sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats also help in protecting the eyes and neck areas.
- When traveling, keep the baby centered in the back seat of the car, far from the side windows where UV rays may penetrate. You may also use window films to block the harmful rays for added protection.
- Keep your baby cool and well hydrated especially while on the road or during hot weather.
- Sunscreen is another way to add a layer of protection on your baby’s skin. For infants below six months, sunscreen should be applied minimally and only when other means of protection like clothing and shade are not available.
Why Do Babies Need Sunscreen?
Baby skin is sensitive and prone to sunburn. Sunburns are caused by ultraviolet light and may contribute to the child’s risk of developing skin cancer or melanoma upon reaching adulthood. Using sunscreen is one way to prevent exposure from harmful ultraviolet light.
How Much Sunscreen Lotion Can a Newborn Baby Wear?
Typically, sunscreen is recommended only for babies over six months old. An infant’s skin is very much different from an adult’s in that it is thinner and does not offer much protection against harmful elements. Infants are prone to contact dermatitis, skin inflammation, and allergies. Also, newborn babies do not have the protection of an acid mantle that shields the skin from bacteria, viruses, and chemicals from sunscreen. Their skin has the tendency to absorb chemicals more than an adult’s, which is why sunscreen use on infants below six months is discouraged.
Newborns up to six months may wear mild and gentle sunscreen with at least 15 SPF, but only when adequate clothing and proper shade are not available. For areas like the face, hands, and feet, sunscreen with a higher SPF like 30 or 50 may be minimally applied.
What Is UV Light?
Ultraviolet light is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation primarily originates from the sun and is transmitted at different wavelengths, known as the electromagnetic spectrum.
UV light is divided into UVA, UVB, and UVC which denotes an increase in energy. UVC is thus considered the most harmful. These are however filtered out by the ozone layer in the atmosphere before it even reaches the earth’s surface. UV light travels at a frequency higher than visible light and can penetrate the skin and cause chemical reactions in the body.
What Are the Positive Effects UV Light on the Skin?
UV light help in the production of Vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is vital for bone and muscle strength, boost the immune system and may lower the risk of colon cancer. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IU, and chronic low levels of vitamin D may cause osteoporosis.
Some skin conditions like lymphoma, eczema, and psoriasis are also known to respond to UV ray treatment. UV rays can help slow the growth of skin cells which help relieve symptoms associated with the condition like itchiness.
Ultraviolet rays may have positive effects on the blood pressure as well. Those living in regions where they receive less UV light are seen to have higher incidents of high blood pressure compared to countries with more sunlight exposure.
What Harmful Effects Do UV Rays Have on the Skin?
Ultraviolet rays or UV-A and UV-B’s harmful effect can be acute or chronic. The acute effects like sunburn and tanning are reversible and do not last long. While chronic effects like premature aging and skin cancer can be serious and life-threatening.
Erythema or sunburn is characterized by red skin caused by an increase in the blood flow due to exposure to the harmful UV rays. People with fair skin, blue eyes, and red or blond hair are believed to be more susceptible to sunburn. Normally, sunburn should fade with two days.
Tanning is the delayed melanin pigmentation due to the increase in the number of pigment cells as a result of the heightened activity of tyrosinase. This causes the increased production of melanin granules. It develops one to two days after exposure and would persist for weeks and even for months. While tanning may provide a sort of protection from any subsequent exposure, the level of protection is not as sufficient especially for Caucasians.
Premature aging is a result of repeated UV radiation exposure. Some symptoms include dryness, wrinkles, saggy skin, lost elasticity, and mottled pigmentation. The condition develops over time and is not reversible.
Skin Cancer is considered to be the most prevalent type of cancers and is associated with constant exposure to UV radiation due to DNA damage. Skin cancer is characterized by an abnormal growth of skin cells which results in malignant tumors. Skin cancer is divided into basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Of the three, melanoma is considered the most serious while basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are considered to be less severe. Usually, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are curable if detected and treated early on. Melanoma accounts for 75% of skin cancer deaths and may spread to other body organs if left untreated.
Eye Damage from UV rays may also happen because the eyes normally absorb more than 99% of these harmful rays. Common eye damages resulting from UV ray exposure are macular degeneration, corneal damage, and cataracts.
Important Factors to Keep in Mind
Full spectrum sunscreen in combination with high SPF (at least 15 rating) protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA is linked to skin cancer and skin aging while UVB is known to cause sunburn (and skin aging and skin cancer as well) but is usually not as prevalent during mornings, evenings, and winter time.
Sun Protection Factor
SPF indicates the degree of protection that a sunscreen provides against UVB rays which are the culprit of sunburn. SPF allows the skin to stay longer under the sun without experiencing burns. Experts recommend a minimum SPF of 15 and reapplication every two hours.
There is a misconception though that SPF equates to the time that the skin can be exposed to the sun. But SPF 15 does not mean protection from the sun for 15 hours. SPF rather relates to the amount of sun exposure, which is affected by several other factors, not just the amount of time. For example, getting exposed to solar energy takes less amount of time at noontime, when the sun’s energy is more intense than in the early morning. Solar energy is also more intense on a clear day as compared to a day with cloudy skies.
It should also be noted that applying the proper amount also plays an important role in SPF effectivity. That said, applying just half the required amount of an SPF 30 only provides the square root of SPF 30 which is 5.5.
Doubling the SPF rating does mean doubling the protection either. Simply put, an SPF 15 prevents 93% of UVB rays from penetrating the skin while SPF 30 prevents 97% and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB radiation.
The ability of a sunscreen to be water-resistant ensures that the SPF protection stays on for a certain amount of time after it comes in contact with water. FDA requires proper labeling of sunscreens when it comes to water-resistance as SPF only and not water-resistant, water-resistant up to 40 minutes, and water-resistant up to 80 minutes.
As chemicals and mineral ingredients generally do not adhere to the skin, waxes, oils, or dimethicone is added to the formulation to allow the sunscreen to stick longer on the skin when submerged in water.
Children’s skin requires extra gentle and mild sunscreen as it is more prone to irritation. Sunscreen for children should not contain PABA and oxybenzone. Children’s skin tends to tolerate more particular sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide.
People with dry skin should opt for moisturizing sunscreens that may include lanolin or dimethicone. While those who are prone to allergies or rosacea should avoid scented sunscreens, and those containing alcohol and preservatives. Acne prone users should stay away from greasy sunscreens as they may worsen or cause skin breakouts.
Individuals with darker skin who rarely experience sunburns but tend to tan easily, do need sunscreen as well. Tanning is also the negative result of sun exposure. Titanium-based sunscreen tends to be chalky and looks obvious when applied on darker skin tone. Look therefore for micronized formulations that easily blends and disappears faster, or choose broad spectrum chemical sunscreens with SPF 15+ instead.
People with very fair skin should get a sunscreen with SPF 30+, and the same goes for those with melasma or had a history of skin cancer. Reapplication after every two hours or after sweating or swimming is also important.
Older individuals are still vulnerable to skin cancer development, thus still need the protection of sunscreens. Individuals who have a hard time applying sunscreen on their body due to decreased mobility may opt for spray-on sunscreens.
We all need sunshine, it helps promote good health and mood. But too much of a good thing is not good and can even cause an adverse effect on one’s health, especially when it comes to ultraviolet radiation. And the risk magnifies when it comes to our children. Thus, choosing the right sunscreen is important so you and your kids can enjoy and have more fun under the sun.