10 Best Sunscreens for Kids & Babies in 2018

Are the ocean waves calling you? Or maybe your family is ready for a trip to the park. Perhaps you’re throwing a fun summer barbecue, or your child has just joined a sports team. Whatever your guiding circumstances, you’ve all come here for the same reason: it’s about to get real sunny in your life, and the lives of all your family members. The sun is a great, warm resource. We naturally need Vitamin D to function at optimal health. But too much sun creates long-term health problems as well, such as premature aging, skin damage, and disease. To protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays, we go through an assortment of steps: cover up when you can, buy appropriate sunglasses, and stock up on that sunscreen. Whether you prefer mineral-based formulas (which work by blocking the sun’s rays) or traditional sunscreens (which absorb the harmful rays in place of your skin), you want something guaranteed to guard against burns. Below are the top-rated sunscreens for all of your needs. From sweatproof sports formulas to gentle hypoallergenic mixtures, we’ve got you covered–literally. Apply as instructed, get out there, and enjoy the great outdoors!

Last Updated:
By Amanda Milewski:

Of course sunscreens are a no-brainer in the summer but there are definitely times when they need to be applied in other seasons when your kids are going to be outside for lengthy periods. Our list of the top 10 sunscreens for kids includes a number of new products that are free from toxic ingredients and utilize plant-based minerals and oils for protection. In addition, all product information, such as formulation, SPF factor, cost and availability, to ensure the veracity of the details.

Our Top 3 Picks

CeraVe Baby SPF 45
  • CeraVe Baby SPF 45
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ceramide Formula
  • Price: See Here
Blue Lizard Baby 30+
  • Blue Lizard Baby 30+
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Mineral-Based Sunscreen
  • Price: See Here
Banana Boat Sunscreen SPF 50
  • Banana Boat Sunscreen SPF 50
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Price: See Here

Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Sunscreens

1. Sunscreen ingredients and safety
Most, if not all, of the sunscreens featured here include natural ingredients that are plant-based or organic. Safety is one of the main concerns when choosing skin protection for children or those with very sensitive skin. Chemical sunscreens can be quite harmful even though they do provide good protection from the sun. Many of these sunscreens also have added vitamins and minerals to help put back into the skin what the sun’s rays can take out.

2. Appropriate age for use
No sunscreen will specifically say that it is for infants of a few months or younger, but these are all safe for infants and children to use. Even adults might prefer to use these sunscreens thinking that the safety of tender or sensitive skin would be at the highest level in these products, and they are correct in that assumption. These products are all safe for children of any age.

3. How often must be applied in one day
These sunscreens are mostly all made with natural ingredients like minerals and oils from plant sources. Because of that, they might need to be reapplied numerous times during the day. Activities such as swimming will wash away some of the properties of the sunscreen protection and frequent reapplication is best. If the child rubs the skin area also, then the sunscreen should be put on again.

4. Level of protection (suntan or sunburn?)
These are all sunscreens, meaning they protect skin from the harmful rays of the sun. They in general will not protect from sunburn or suntan, although individual observances can attest to the facts that some people will not burn or tan with a certain product. If the label says it will prevent tan or burn, then it should, but most of these products provide a protective layer for skin as a screen.

5. Protection in water
Most sunscreens have some level of protection in water, but some may need to be reapplied to provide the best protection for the skin. Usually the thicker the lotion the better the protection. If the lotion goes on oily and thin, then after being in the water, you will need to put more sunscreen on. For sensitive or very tender skin, it would not hurt to apply again even if the lotion says it protects in water. It is better to err on the side of caution for sunscreen.

What Determined the Best Sunscreens for Kids on Our List

To give you the best kids’ sunscreens, we had to review current recommendations by various health organizations as well as regulating agencies. Since skin protection is vital in the prevention of serious skin conditions like cancer, we had to make sure we’re listing the correct products.

First, the product must provide a broad spectrum of UV protection. It must be able to protect against the harmful rays of both UVA and UVB light. While we know that UVB radiation is what gives our skin the reddish appearance and the associated pain of sunburn, it is the effects of UVA radiation that we want to minimize as this has been associated with the development of certain types of skin cancer. Many sunscreens only offer UVB protection. That’s why it’s imperative that we get only those with both UVA and UVB protection.

The sun-protection factor was also considered. While existing world health regulations have placed a limit on the SPF that can be written on product labels, currently placed at 50+, we know that an SPF of 30 is sufficient for protecting the skin of our kids especially if they will be staying on the beach or even in the pool for extended hours.

The ingredients used in the formulation of these products were also evaluated. Safety is a paramount concern. We may be preventing the development of skin cancer but, if the same substances we apply on the skin of our kids will result in other health problems, then it wouldn’t really be offering them protection at all.

When all of these were thoroughly evaluated, we ran the products for another pass, this time focusing on the product rating. A four-star product rating assured a kids’ sunscreen a place in our list. We also considered customer feedback and comments from reviewers. It’s one thing to base one’s knowledge on literature. It’s a different matter to listen to how well the product actually works in the real setting.

Tips in Choosing the Correct Sunscreen for Your Kid

If you want to search for the correct sunscreen for your child yourself, then it is important to consider the following tips in choosing the right sunscreen for your child.

  • Always choose safe ingredients. 

It is very important to always choose safe sunscreens, particularly those do not that contain retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone as these ingredients have been implicated in toxicities. Nano-particles should also be avoided. Safer ingredients are those that contain metal oxides like zinc and titanium.

  • Always go for broad-spectrum formulations. 

Studies now show that UVA rays are responsible for the long-term damage to cells and tissues of the skin which can lead to the development of melanoma and other forms of cancer. While the process is insidious, it can be mitigated if adequate UVA protection is provided. The sunburn that often occurs with excessive exposure to the sun’s rays is caused by UVB radiation. It is thus, important to choose a product that gives protection against both types of ultraviolet radiation.

  • Choose the right SPF. 

The sun protection factor (SPF) of a product is very important as it represents the fraction of the sun’s rays that are able to penetrate the protective layer before it reaches the skin. For example, if you have an SPF 15, this is expressed as 1/15th, meaning only 1/15th of the sun’s radiation will reach the skin. The higher the SPF, the lesser is the amount of radiation that will reach the skin. However, because there are no clear studies indicating an SPF higher than 50 is sufficiently more effective than lower SPFs, many organizations, including the FDA, capped the SPF at 50. Manufacturers, therefore, are advised not to label any sunscreens beyond 50 SPF. If they wish to, they can list the product as 50+ instead.

The Bottom Line

Our kids need to enjoy the great outdoors especially during the summer. However, we must be ready to protect them as the sun can be quite harmful during these days. With these 10 best sunscreens for kids, you can bet your kids are in safe hands.

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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do these sunscreens wash off easily from the tender skin of a baby? Will just the regular bath with soap and water get them off?

A: Yes, most if not all of these sunscreens will come off easily with soap and water in a regular bath. No hard scrubbing should be necessary.

Q: Do these sunscreens leave a white film on the skin when applied?

A: No, they do not if rubbed in sufficiently. It will protect best if rubbed in all the way, so the skin can absorb the ingredients which protect from the sun’s rays.

Q: Are these products greasy?

A: No, they are not greasy nor do they leave a greasy film on the skin. Rubbing the product in until it is not visible is the key to great skin protection and a non-visible, non-greasy feel and look.

Q: Are these sunscreens for the face or body, or both?

A: All of these products can be used for skin on the face and the body. They are very safe and will not leave residues or cause skin problems in general.

Q: These products are mostly mineral sunscreens. Does that mean that they must be reapplied frequently?

A: It depends on your activities. Mineral sunscreens are unlike regular chemical sunscreens in that they must be applied again if you get into the water for swimming or rub off the protective layer, say as you are drying off with a towel. Chemical products can withstand this, but natural, mineral sunscreens must be put on again after rubbing or swimming.

Q: Do these products stain clothing?

A: No, these sunscreens do not stain clothes.

Q: Is there any fragrance detectable to these products?

A: There is a slight smell or fragrance to these sunscreens, but it is not overpowering or bothersome. These products were made with young children in mind, so the only fragrance detectable would be mostly the natural plant oils used.

Sources

  1. Admin, Sunscreens: How to Read a Label, Expert Tips etc., information page,
  2. Skin Cancer Foundation, What You Need to Know About Sunscreen, Informative Article,
  3. American Academy of Dermatology , Sunscreen FAQs , FAQ,
  4. Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, Sun Protection and Sunscreens, Article,
  5. Academy of Pediatrics, Sun Safety: Information for Parents About Sunburn & Sunscreen, Informative Article,