With summer officially over, it seems the right time to toss those kid-safe and baby sunscreen leftovers deep within your beach bag. But not so fast—wearing sunscreen shouldn’t be a seasonal thing. Even when the forecast calls for clouds or rain, those damaging UV rays are there, with 80% penetrating your skin. That means using a baby sunscreen for littles, and kid sunscreen for older children is a must when you’re spending time outside (and with COVID-19 still lurking, we’re planning to do that a lot more). For kids, it’s crucial because early childhood is a time when the skin is at its most vulnerable, says Dr. Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist in Florham Park, NJ, and affiliated with Saint Barnabas Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility in Livingston. “Sun damage is cumulative, and for young kids, it impacts how your skin will look in the future. It’s also important for preventing skin cancer, since the more sun exposure you have, the more likely you’ll get skin cancer later in life,” she says. But with so many products out there, how’s a mom to know which one to buy? Scroll down for the deets on the safest ingredients and clean formulas that will work for your babe (and you, too).
What to look for with kid-safe and baby sunscreen
Let’s face it—scanning Amazon looking for sunscreen is about as fun as listening to your kids whine about what to do these days. But there are ways to narrow your search. The first step to finding one you want is to know the formulas. There are two different types of sunscreen—physical and chemical. Physical, aka mineral sunscreens, with zinc or titanium dioxide, acts as a shield, physically blocking the sun from entering the skin and causing damage. Chemical sunscreens have ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone that, when applied, work like a sponge to absorb UV light. While chemical formulas are thinner and spread quickly without leaving a trace, most moms prefer the mineral types because the physical ingredients sit on top of the skin and aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream (though there is no definitive evidence on long-term effects of chemical absorption).
Regardless, the formula should be broad-spectrum with an SPF of at least 15 for everyday activity (recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation) for protecting you from both UVA and UVB rays and preventing skin cancers. As for types, even though kid sunscreen spray is a mom-ease favorite for getting sunscreen on fidgety kids, they have a bad rap because you can inhale the particles after a spritz. The safer way to go? A kid sunscreen stick or lotion can guide you through the application to see where and if you miss spots.
These 8 kid-safe and baby sunscreens are #NJMOM approved
Moms are big fans of this baby sunscreen for its plant-based ingredients and a proprietary blend of tomato, sunflower, cranberry, black cumin, and raspberry seed oils to deeply nourish and protect delicate skin. Babyganics sunscreen has a thick formula that’s visible when you apply it (so helpful for when your baby isn’t sitting still) but after a few passes of gentle rubbing, the white streaks disappear.
Blue Lizard Baby SPF 30+ Mineral Sunscreen ($15)
Dr. Sperling recommends this kid-safe and baby sunscreen brand for its mineral active zinc oxide and chemical-free formula that’s both paraben and fragrance-free. We love the fact that the cap turns pink in intense UV light, reminding you that it’s time to reapply.
Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby SPF Sunscreen 50 Stick ($4)
This kids sunscreen stick formula is best for applying on little ears, nose, and hidden spots where the sun can sneak in. It glides on smoothly, thanks to the cocoa butter ingredients, and kids will like it for its faint chocolatey scent.
Badger SPF 40 Kids Clear Sport Sunscreen ($14)
If your kids say “ick” to the white residue that mineral formulas leave, opt for this clear drying one. It has nine non-GMO ingredients, including non-nano zinc oxide, sunflower Vitamin E, and organic beeswax. It’s also naturally sweat-and-water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it a must for soccer games or energetic playground sessions. Editor’s Note: we are huge fans of the Badger Baby Sunscreen, too!
Earth Mama Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40 ($12)
This creamy lotion will give delicate skin a softness boost. Ingredients like organic shea butter and calendula. are mixed with extracts of raspberry seed oil and pomegranate (both give natural UV protection) for a shot of soothing moisture.
Think Baby Safe Sunscreen Stick SPF 30 ($9)
No doubt a kids sunscreen stick works best for applying when your littles have the wiggles—just swipe it on as they move. This formula glides on smoothly, has non-nano zinc oxide for safe protection, and can easily be carried in your pocket for those times when your crew is on the go.
Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50 ($9)
Aveeno is always a mom favorite, thanks to their sensitive formulas and nourishing ingredients like skin-soothing oat. This naturally-sourced sunscreen lotion is no different—it feels like water going on and gently moisturizes without aggravating sensitive skin.
Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 50 ($7)
When it comes to applying sunscreen to your kid’s face, swiping on with a stick is a no-brainer. This plant-based formula with lush coconut oil is a fan favorite for its non-oily feel. Start with a swipe across the hairline and work your way down the face to get max coverage.
California Baby Everyday/Year-Round SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion ($27)
It may be for kids, but moms like using this too, thanks to the moisturizing, rich calendula to keep skin soft and supple. Another bonus? The certified organic formula doesn’t contain any traces of soy, gluten, or dairy, so it’s irritant-free.
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