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This sunscreen can be applied even to wet skin. It delivers broad spectrum SPF 70 protection from UVA and UVB rays. The formula is oil-free and PABA-free, and it is hypoallergenic. This sunscreen can stay on for as long as 80 minutes in the water.
Regular users say this product is pricier than it used to be.
This natural sunscreen is free of gluten, dyes and phthalates. Fragrance-free and designed with the health of aquatic life in mind. Contains no harmful oxybenzone or octinoxate. Easy to apply and doesn’t leave skin feeling greasy. It can last for 80 minutes in wet conditions.
Stick contains a fairly small amount of product.
This SPF 50 lotion moisturizes the skin as it blocks harmful UV rays. It is free of oil, gluten and parabens and contains no added fragrance. Provides 80 minutes of protection. Contains no ingedients that can harm reefs. Suitable for kids ages six months and up.
Some say the ingredient list isn't always 100% accurate.
Babies, older kids and adults with skin conditions can use this gentle option. Contains no parabens and has no fragrance. Made of 70% organic ingredients. This mineral sunscreen contains zinc oxide and is safe for face and body. Offers 80 minutes of protection per application.
Small amount for the price. Hard to apply on some gelatinous baby skin.
Use the soft brush head to apply sunscreen without making a mess. Free of parabens, phthalates and PABA. Contains no reef-harming toxins. Kids can splash and sweat safely for 80 minutes before reapplying. A good choice for sensitive skin. Hypoallergenic
Because it's sheer it can be hard to know when you've applied enough.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Ensuring your child is adequately protected from the sun's harmful rays is crucial, and choosing the right sunscreen plays a significant role. When choosing the best sunscreen for your kids, a few important factors to consider include SPF rating, whether it's broad-spectrum, water-resistant and what specifically is in its ingredient list.
Kids have sensitive skin, so a sunscreen with natural, skin-friendly ingredients is often the best choice. It's also crucial to find a product that is easy to apply — kids won't sit still for long! As part of this guide, we've looked at a range of sunscreens specially designed for children, comparing their features and benefits to help you make an informed choice.
Neutrogena – Wet Skin Kids Water Resistant Sunscreen Stick
Neutrogena's Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Stick stands out with an SPF rating of 70+ and a water resistance of up to 80 minutes. It's designed for direct application on wet skin, perfect for beach and pool days. The stick format makes application effortless, reducing the risk of missed spots. It's also less messy than traditional creams and sprays.
The Wet Skin Sunscreen Stick uses a Helioplex formula to provide broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. It's also hypoallergenic and oil-free, making it suitable for sensitive skin. Keep in mind that it contains oxybenzone, which may not be suitable for children with certain skin allergies.
Blue Lizard – Mineral Sunscreen Stick with Zinc Oxide
This sunscreen stick from Blue Lizard is an excellent choice for parents seeking a mineral-based, reef-safe option. The active ingredient is zinc oxide, a natural mineral that effectively blocks both UVA and UVB rays. This stick offers SPF 50+ protection and is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.
One unique feature is the patented BPA-free Smart Bottle technology that changes color in UV light, acting as a fun, visual reminder to apply sunscreen. Free from fragrances, parabens and octinoxate, this product is as gentle on the environment as it is on your child's skin.
Rocky Mountain Sunscreen – Reef Safe SPF 50 Lotion for Kids
For those who prefer a lotion sunscreen, the Rocky Mountain Sunscreen for Kids is a worthy contender. It offers broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. The formula is oxybenzone-free and safe for coral reefs, making it a guilt-free choice for beach vacations.
What sets this sunscreen apart is its bond to the skin on a cellular level, providing longer-lasting protection that won't easily rub off. The lotion is free from fragrances, making it suitable for sensitive skin. However, it does require more thorough application than a stick or spray sunscreen.
Mustela – Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick
Mustela's Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick is a fantastic choice for babies and toddlers with delicate skin. This stick offers broad-spectrum SPF 50+ protection, using 100% naturally derived mineral filters. The active ingredient is non-nano zinc oxide, making it a safe and effective option.
This sunscreen is hypoallergenic, tested under pediatric and dermatological control, and free from parabens, phthalates, and phenoxyethanol. It's also water-resistant, ensuring your child stays protected during water play. The compact stick format makes it easy to carry and quick to apply, even on wriggly little ones.
Bob Kids – Brush-On Mineral Powder Sunscreen
Bob Kids' Brush-On Mineral Powder Sunscreen is a unique and innovative option for sun protection. It offers SPF 30 protection using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both natural mineral UV filters. The powder is hypoallergenic and free from fragrances, parabens and phthalates.
The main selling point of this sunscreen is its brush-on applicator. It's perfect for kids who dislike the sensation of lotion or stick sunscreen. Plus, the translucent powder won't leave a white residue on your child's skin. However, its SPF rating is lower than the other options in this list, and it's not water-resistant, making it more suited for everyday, non-water-related outdoor activities.
There are several types of sunscreens available on the market that are suitable for kids. Some of the most common are lotion sunscreens, stick sunscreens and spray sunscreens. Each has its pros and cons, and the choice largely depends on your child's skin type and preference.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The SPF number indicates how well the sunscreen protects against UVB rays, which are the kind of ultraviolet light that causes sunburn and contributes to skin cancer. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
However, no sunscreen can block all UVB rays, and high-SPF products may not offer significantly greater protection. For example, SPF 30 sunscreens block about 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 sunscreens block about 98%. Remember, high-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs.
Broad spectrum coverage
A broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum, sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburn, while UVA rays can prematurely age and wrinkle skin. Both contribute to skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using broad-spectrum protection.
If your child will be swimming or sweating, look for a sunscreen that is water-resistant. This means the sunscreen will stay on wet or sweaty skin for a certain amount of time before it must be reapplied. Water-resistant does not mean waterproof; all sunscreens eventually wash off. The label will specify whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes when swimming or sweating.
Some sunscreens use mineral (also known as physical) blockers, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These sit on the skin’s surface to reflect UV rays. Others use chemical blockers, like avobenzone, that absorb UV rays before they can damage the skin.
Some people prefer mineral sunscreens because they worry about potential health risks of chemical sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens can be a good choice for those with sensitive skin, but they may leave a white residue on the skin.
Choose a sunscreen that is specifically designed for children. These formulas are often milder and less likely to irritate the skin. Some kid-friendly sunscreens also use mineral blockers which are generally safer for younger skin.
Ease of application
If your child resists applying sunscreen, a spray or stick might be a better choice. Some products also offer fun features, like sunscreen that changes color when it’s time to reapply.
Ingredients to avoid
Look for sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, chemicals that can potentially cause harm to the environment. Some sunscreens are marketed as "reef-safe" because they do not contain these ingredients. While no sunscreen has been proven to be completely safe for marine life, these products are considered to be a better choice for the environment.
Hypoallergenic & dermatologist-tested
For kids with sensitive skin, opt for hypoallergenic sunscreens that are free from fragrances and parabens. Also, look for products that are labeled as "dermatologist-tested," which means they have been reviewed by skin specialists.
Value for money
Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and after swimming or sweating, so you may go through a lot of it. Consider the cost per ounce, and balance this against other factors, such as how much your child likes the product and is willing to use it.
Remember that sunscreen is just one part of protecting your child from the sun. It’s also important to seek shade, especially during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and wear protective clothing and sunglasses.
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