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Whether you’re gearing up for a family-friendly vacation or packing for a day at sports camp, finding the best kids sunscreen for your little ones is essential. After all, we parents will have to deal with their moaning and groaning if they get burned after their Vitamin D-filled day.
Picking our children’s “perfect” sunblock can be challenging, though.
It’s like walking through the pages of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. They’re too sticky, too smelly, and too “burny” until you eventually find the one that’s “just right.”
What if you could carve out the middleman?
Instead of wasting countless hours, dollars, and tears using subpar sunscreens, you could skip to the finish line and buy a product trusted by professionals (and by professionals, I mean other parents who have done the hard work for you!).
There are countless sunblocks for children available, but not all of them are equal. Below you’ll find a collection of trustworthy sun-protection products that are natural, sensitive, and affordable.
Kids Sunscreen Rules You Need to Follow
You might think a list of “rules about applying sunscreen” is ridiculous. Just open the cap and put it on.
Surprisingly, there’s more to it than that.
If you want to take the best care possible of your little one’s skin and help them avoid annoying sunburns, pay close attention to the following suggestions:
1. Look for Mineral Sunscreens
You would think you can trust the active ingredients that manufacturers put in sunscreen. Unfortunately, many products are packed full of harmful elements that cause skin problems and environmental problems, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate.
I’m assuming that most of us would rather not cover our kids up in chemicals that can cause more harm than good.
In that case, your best option is to purchase mineral-based sunscreens.
Usually, these formulas contain naturally-occurring sun protectants, like zinc oxide, that fight against UVA and UVB rays while protecting our skin.
So, if you want to keep your kid’s skin soft, lovely, and nourished, it’s time to throw out that old bottle of sunscreen and consider a mineral alternative.
2. Reapply, Reapply, Reapply
Truth time: I hate putting sunscreen on my kids. It’s probably one of my top three least favorite things about parenting. No matter how gentle I try to be, they squirm and screech like I’m raking hot pokers over their skin.
My life would be much easier if I stopped caring about their future skin cancer risk, but alas, that’s probably a surefire way to make me the new target of the judging moms in my community, and honestly, I don’t want to stop caring about it.
So, not only do I put sunscreen on before they start their outdoor adventure, but I force them to stand still for reapplications, too–it’s torture, I tell you.
Just putting on an initial sunscreen base isn’t usually good enough, especially if you’re spending the whole day outside. Experts suggest reapplying sunblock every two hours, more often if they’re sweating or in the water.
3. Buy UPF Clothing and Swimwear, Too
Want to up the ante on your child’s sun protection? Not only should you purchase high-quality sunscreen, but you can also buy UPF clothing that prevents exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Some popular stores that carry these items include Target, Caden Lane, and Coolibar.
4. Minimize Sun Exposure
Experts tell us that for optimal sun safety, we should avoid sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm when rays are the strongest…yeah, good luck with that as a parent. That time frame is the ideal window for outdoor playtime and likely the period when your kids will beg to go out most frequently.
So, while I’d love to sit here and say keep them inside and turn them into tiny vampires, it’s just not plausible.
I will tell you, though, to consider how much time they’re in the sun during these hours. Be diligent about reapplying sunblock and think about taking breaks and only staying out for shorter periods.
5. Know When to Put Sunblock On
Okay, you’ve loaded up the car, driven to the beach, and are making your way down to the water’s edge when you realize you forgot to put sunscreen on the kiddos: I hate to say it, but you’re already late to the game.
For the best possible sun protection, make sure to apply sunblock 15-30 minutes BEFORE going outside.
6. Choose the Right SPF
Per the American Academy of Dermatology, the lowest SPF rating you should pick for your children is 30. While most kid-centric sunblock products will come with SPF 40 or higher, it’s always worth double-checking the number to ensure their fragile skin is protected.
What Are the Most Natural and Safest Sunscreens for Kids?
Yes, you want to help your kids avoid the painful and damaging effects of harmful UV rays. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re willing to throw just anything on their skin.
The options below hit the mark if you’re hunting for sunblock creams that include natural, gentle ingredients.
When it comes to safe, sensitive, and natural sunblock products for kids, I consider the Blue Lizard brand one of the top contenders.
This product is the #1 mineral sunscreen for kids recommended by pediatricians across the United States. It’s free of parabens and fragrances that cause skin irritations and is water and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Since this is a zinc oxide-based product, it’s thicker than some other sunblocks, BUT reviewers say it’s easy to apply and rub in.
It can still leave a minimal white cast that’s common among mineral sunscreens.
Instead of nasty chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone, Supergoop Play relies on natural sun protectant and antioxidant-rich formulas, including sunflower and rosemary leaf extract.
Don’t let the clean ingredients fool you, though – this is one of the best sunscreens for kids on the market! It’s fragrance-free, water-resistant, and even reef friendly (meaning the ingredients won’t harm our precious ocean life!).
One of my favorite things about this product is its lightweight formula.
One reviewer says that it feels just like putting on a quality lotion.
No list of the most natural and safest sunscreens for kids would be complete without mentioning Tubby Todd! This incredible brand offers broad-spectrum sun protection for the battle against UVA and UVB rays.
The company even offers a worry-free guarantee, so if you’re not completely satisfied with the purchase, they’ll work hard to correct the problem.
For that reason, when I was looking for a safe sunscreen for my daughter’s sensitive skin, they were one of the first brands I tried. The company’s mineral sunscreen is a fantastic pick for anyone who prefers clean, natural ingredients.
However, one complaint I noticed among reviewers was that getting out of the bottle takes work. It’s one of those “no matter how hard you squeeze, it won’t always work” kind of packages.
So, if you’re looking for something that will make application easy, there might be other options.
The Top Water and Sweat-Resistant Sunblocks for Children
Here’s the great thing about modern sunblocks–most will be sweat and water-resistant. That said, a couple of products seem to work a bit better than their competitors.
Coppertone has been around for generations and has earned a reputation as a mainstay in sun protection. While its products aren’t necessarily the first ones you think of if you’re looking for natural alternatives, they still do a great job of preventing sunburns.
The Water Babies formula is one of the best water-resistant options available. Even better is that it’s free of harsh chemicals and nasty parabens. It’s also formulated to nourish a baby’s delicate skin and includes aloe vera and Vitamin E.
Leave this product at the store if your kiddo is sensitive to strong scents, though. Many reviewers comment about how overwhelming the smell is.
ThinkKids is designed with active children in mind. Think about it for a moment; no matter how long you spend applying their sun lotion, they jump right in as soon as they see the ocean or a pool. The last thing you want is sunscreen that will wash right off.
This product has the highest level of water resistance possible in mineral sunscreen.
That way, you can spend more time watching your littles splash around instead of begging them to come out for another coating of sunscreen every two seconds!
Skin-Friendly Kids Sunscreen Products
The sun’s rays are relentless. And the sun doesn’t care if your child has sensitive skin; it’s ready to burn anyone in its path, including littles with sensitive skin or skin issues like eczema.
Thankfully, we live in a world with more choices than we know what to do with. If you want a skin-friendly sunscreen that will protect kids without the risk of rashes and irritation, read on!
Baby Bum Fragrance-Free Sunscreen is a part of the popular Sun Bum family. It offers the reliable sun protection you want for your kiddos in a gentle formula safe for babies and children with skin sensitivities.
Baby Bum is a plant-based blend with quality ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and skin-safe zinc oxide. This way, your child can avoid burns while still being lathered in a luxurious cream that moisturizes their skin.
What you need to know: this is a heavy sun lotion! It might not be the easiest to rub in and will likely leave a white cast behind.
Since many kids flip out when we try to put sunscreen on their faces; it makes sense to find a product that goes on easier–enter the Blue Mineral sunscreen stick.
Not only does this mineral sunscreen lotion go on quickly, but it’s also formulated for anyone with delicate skin that breaks out and gets irritated.
They also have a more traditional sensitive sunblock cream that you can use on the rest of your child’s body.
Earth Mama is already known for using high-grade, pure ingredients. It’s probably not a surprise that their sensitive formula sunscreen for kids is a top option for any little one susceptible to irritations.
In fact, this product has even earned the Seal of Acceptance™ from the National Eczema Association.
It’s formulated with nourishing shea butter and healing colloidal oatmeal to calm troubled skin and maintain a moisturized barrier.
Some reviewers complain it’s hard to rub in but say it’s well worth the added trouble.
The Best Powder & Spray Sunscreen Products for Kids and Toddlers
Powder and spray sunscreens can be unpredictable when it comes to their coverage and reliability. At the same time, they’re so convenient when dealing with squealing kids who are “allergic” to standing still for sunblock applications.
Want to use powder or spray on your children? The products below are your best bet!
Want to know one of my favorite buzzwords in the name of this product? CLEAR!
All too often, whether using a spray or cream mineral sunscreen, you end up with an annoying white cast, even after you rub it in. The Sun Bum Kids Spray goes on clear, though!
It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and has ZERO synthetic fragrances or dyes.
It can also last up to 80 minutes against water or sweat, so your kids can spend more time playing and less time arguing about putting on more sunscreen!
If you’re looking for a quality spray sunscreen that won’t break the bank, the Hello Bello mineral sunblock at Amazon is a fantastic option.
We use several Hello Bello products for our skin-sensitive girlies, and they never fail, including the spray sunscreen!
One thing to mention, however, is that this isn’t your typical aerosol spray. It comes out in squirts, so make sure to rub it in after application.
Did you know that powder sunscreen is a thing? Yeah, I didn’t either until recently!
Imagine busting out a soft brush to “tickle” little faces, arms, and legs instead of pelting them with cold, sticky alternative sunscreens. I feel like it’s much easier to sell a product like this, but can you trust a powder sunblock?
Yes and no.
While BOB Kids powder offers the same broad-spectrum UV protection you’ll get from other sunscreens, you should be careful about putting it on. Some reviewers said it takes some time to figure out how to use the brush, and a few parents said they had difficulty figuring out whether they had enough powder.
The product is also pretty pricey and runs out quickly.
This type of mineral sunscreen is impressive in theory, but the execution can be challenging. Be careful with the application if you give this one a try.
If we’re trying to list the best spray sunscreens for kids, there’s no way we can leave Tubby Todd off the list.
This brand is one of the most trusted names in children’s sun protection, and their spray sunscreen is no exception. It’s made with high-quality mineral ingredients, including zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and skin-nourishing elements like aloe vera.
The one downside: this product is thick and can get all over anything it touches. Be careful where you’re using it to avoid possible staining.
Pick a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen for Kids You Can Rely On
Finding safe sunscreen for kids is a top priority for most parents. After all, few things are worse than seeing your little one in pain from a sunburn!
Whether you go with a spray, cream, or powder, there’s no shortage of great products you can depend on. From Tubby Todd to Blue Lizard, you’re sure to find something that works well for your child’s skin.
What’s the best kid’s sunscreen you’ve ever used?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.