Best Kids Sunscreens 2020

A bad sunburn will ruin even the best summer vacation! Suddenly the fun and painless vacation you planned turns into a burning, itching, peeling nightmare! Never again! Our hands-on reviews of the best sunscreens for babies, toddlers, and big kids resulted in several clear winners, all of which are creams (no sprays).

Here's why we do not recommend spray sunscreens: the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is investigating dangers associated with using spray sunscreen. This is because spray sunscreen can catch fire, infants can inhale their harmful chemicals, and it's difficult to see areas you've missed during application.

To find the best sunscreens your little one, we considered several factors in our reviews: chemical exposure, sunscreen effectiveness, length of protection, resilience during water play, the difficulty of application, oily hand-feel, and of course, price! For more details about how we considered these factors in our hands-on reviews, scroll down to the bottom of this page. Otherwise, let's get into the results!

Here are the Best Baby Sunscreens of 2020!

1. Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF sunscreen baby bum

Trust the Bum! Sun Bum has been making fantastic sunscreen for babies, kids, and adults for about a decade now, and we've been consistently impressed with the quality and effectiveness of their products. They make plant-based sunscreen formulas that are reef friendly, cruelty-free, vegan, gluten free, hypoallergenic, and free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, fragrances, and silicone. What's left for them to include? Mineral-based protection with 20% zinc oxide, coconut oil, shea butter, and other ingredients that are allergy- and developmentally-friendly. In fact, the Environmental Working Group's safety database scores this sunscreen a 1, which means it has the lowest possible toxicity and bioaccumulation. That makes us feel pretty good about this baby sunscreen. But how does it perform? Like any mineral-based sunscreen, it's thick and a bit of a chore to apply; that's not surprising given the 20% zinc oxide protection. It will leave a bit of a faint white film, but you'll be happy you did because the protection is truly fantastic. We applied and spent several hours in the sun and we were completely protected. It worked in the pool and on the beach, without any issues of lowered effectiveness. And we liked that it didn't have any harsh fragrances, only the mild smell of cocoa butter. This sunscreen is on the more expensive side, coming in at about $3.50 per ounce. Cons? Like most sunscreens, intense sweating (beach volleyball, anyone?) will cause it to drip into the eyes and cause some stinging, so we always suggest keeping a towel nearby to wipe sweat from your brow. That's pretty unlikely with babies, but it's worth mentioning. Overall, this is an excellent sunscreen that not only works extremely well, but also makes us feel good about buying it and gives us peace of mind that we're not applying harsh chemicals to our baby's sensitive skin. Worth the cost? We'll let you decide! Interested? You can check out this Blue Lizard sunscreen here.

2. ThinkBaby Safe Sunscreen SPF sunscreen think baby

Here is another excellent sensitive and chemical free sunblock option, a second-best sunscreen for kids, coming in at a bit more expensive than Blue Lizard. The Think Baby sunscreen only uses Zinc Oxide, one of the relatively low-risk chemical pigments that offer excellent sun protection. In fact, this particular sunscreen was the first to pass the Whole Foods rigid sunscreen inspection process (premium care requirements), and while we may not be huge fans of Whole Foods they're known to be quite picky with what they consider Health & Beauty products. This sunscreen offers the highest possible protection of 50+ SPF, with the highest possible level of water resistance (80 minutes)! Note that these are FDA-established maximums for all sunscreens. In our tests, we found it thick and creamy but actually very easy to dispense and spread onto the skin. It left a faint white residue that went away after a few minutes, leaving behind a slightly shiny film. The odor was basically non-existent, at first spelling a tiny bit like citrus fruit, but then fading to nearly no odor at all. We didn't think it worked quite as well as the Baby Bum baby sunscreen, or the Blue Lizard, as one of our test kids was a bit pink on the shoulders after a day on the beach. But it was a hot day, and we didn't follow the instructions to re-apply every couple of hours (we did twice for the entire day). A final point is that this baby sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide, which is considered safer for coral reefs than nano-scale zinc oxide; so if you're considering some ocean swimming, this is an awesome reef-safe baby sunscreen option. Overall, we think this is an excellent and effective sunscreen option. It is basically tied with the #1 baby sunscreen on our list, except for the price. We use a 3 oz tube that we found for about $10 online, making it about $3.33 per ounce. By comparison, this is a bit cheaper than the Baby Bum, but more expensive than Blue Lizard. ThinkBaby also makes an awesome baby face and body sunscreen stick at SPF 30, which we've had great experience with (especially for a quick reapplication). Overall, it's reasonably priced for the #1 rated baby sunscreen on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) website! Interested? You can check out this ThinkBaby sunscreen here.

3. Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen SPF sunscreen blue lizard

This is a sensitive, and chemical and fragrance-free sunblock option for kids and adults alike. What they mean by chemical free is it contains only the relatively low-risk chemical pigments Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Blue Lizard also went paraben-free as of 2012, which is somewhat rare on the sunscreen market. In our tests we found that it spread easily for a non-chemical sunscreen, which tends to be thicker than other sunscreens. It also worked at blocking the sun quite well. Our 3 test kiddos also had no adverse skin reactions, and none was even slightly pink by the end of the day (save for some toe areas we neglected to reach!). None of them complained about any eye stinging either, which I will say is rare in our household! So overall, this seems like a great option, and there are some great reasons to have it as the best sunscreen for kids. It doesn't contain any of the high-risk chemicals, yet still does a great job preventing sunburn without burning a big hole in your wallet (maybe a little hole, but we think one that's worth it). Note that in comparison to our top-rated baby sunscreens, this one is SPF 30, which means that it does not provide the same protection as the front-runners, so be sure to reapply and monitor closely for burns. We used an 8.75 oz tube that we found for about $25 online, making it about $2.85/ounce. Also check out Blue Lizard's FACE version and their super sensitive BABY sunscreen version. Interested? You can check out this Blue Lizard sunscreen here.

4. Alba Botanica Mineral Sunblock SPF sunscreen alba botanica mineral

We absolutely love Alba Botanica, especially their sunscreen options for adults, like their Hawaiian Sunscreen SPF 45, which smells and works great without any high-risk chemicals. This third best sunscreen for kids is something Alba has marketed as "Mineral Sunblock" which is the same as #1 and #2, basically meaning that it uses Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide instead of some of the higher risk chemicals. Note that this isn't the case with all of their Kids sunscreens: their SPF 45 version contains some of the moderate-risk chemicals listed above. This particular one, however, is quite good. It contains no parabens, artificial colors, or other harmful active or inactive ingredients. It is 100% vegetarian (no animal byproducts). It offers 40 minutes of water protection and goes on smooth and thick without any oily residue. We also loved that it had very little odor. In our testing, it performed very well, protecting the 2 kids that used it on the beach (reapplied every 2 hours), without any evidence of sunburn. Overall, this is a great option. It is listed third for a few reasons. First, it's somewhat harder to find than the others. Second, we didn't like that some of the Alba Botanica Kids versions had some of the moderate-risk chemicals. However, it is a bit cheaper than the others, and we found it online for around $10 for 4 ounces, making it about $2.50 per ounce. Interested? You can check out the Alba Botanica Kids sunscreen here.

5. Badger Balm Kids Sunscreen SPF sunscreen badger balm

Also see the Baby version here. This is the simplest, 100% natural, and 95% organic baby and kid sunscreen on our list. As the fourth best sunscreen for kids, the Badger Balm sunscreen only contains 6 ingredients, the first being over 18% Zinc Oxide (that's a high amount), and the rest some fancy oils and natural scents of citrus and vanilla. We thought it smelled great and was a refreshingly simple option in an otherwise chemical-saturated sunscreen market. It offers 40 minutes of water protection. In our testing, we thought that it was rather thick and a bit too chalky white for our tastes. It also rubbed off a bit onto our swim-suits (which washed off fine later). It did awesome in our beach testing though, with no signs of sunburn on our little ones, though we did reapply every 60-90 minutes or so. We also thought the scent was a bit overwhelming for one of our kids in particular, but not the other. The price was also a bit high, around $5 per ounce on average; the tube we tested was only 2.9 oz and cost us about $14. Note that Badger also makes a Baby Badger formula with chamomile rather than vanilla scent. We haven't tried that one but will update when we do. Interested? You can check out the Badger Balm Kids sunscreen here.

6. Babyganics Pure Mineral-based Sunscreen SPF sunscreen babyganics

Note that Babyganics has several sunscreen options, but only two of the ones we've found actually use only mineral-based active ingredients. These are the Mineral-based Lotion and the Mineral-based Stick. While all of the Babyganics options do not include PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances, and nano-particles, some of them do use active sunscreen ingredients (like octisalate) other than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Most parents will want to steer clear of those options. This review is for the Pure Mineral based Babyganics option. Like all sunscreens using only mineral-based active ingredients, the Babyganics Pure Mineral-Based Sunscreen goes on quite thick but does rub in with a little effort. If it's not rubbing in all the way, you might be using too much (you will always see a light haze with mineral sunscreen, but it shouldn't be totally ghostly!). In our tests, we found some good reasons to list it here as the sixth best kid's sunscreen: we found that it is great for highly sensitive skin, it doesn't contain many common irritants, and it does an excellent job protecting against sunburns.

Our primary gripe with this sunscreen option is that the brand name "Babyganics" implies that this is an organic option, which it is not. That misled us and likely many others (a settlement was reached a few years ago after a class action lawsuit was filed for this misleading marketing); thus, while they're making what seems to be a pretty good product, we're not keen on that little issue.

Another issue with this product is that it may not provide the full SPF 50+ protection claimed on the packaging: yet another class action lawsuit against Babyganics (and their parent company KAS Direct) was filed due to this misleading labeling, with the claim that independent testing showed it only reached about SPF30 protection.

In our testing, we re-applied every 40 minutes with use in water (pool or beach), and every couple of hours without use in water. We didn't experience any pinkness or burns, though we did tan a bit more than expected.

Yet another downside is that Babyganics appears to have discontinued their "Pure Mineral" line of sunscreens (likely due to the lawsuit), and they are becoming increasingly hard to find. To our knowledge, however, there has been no Babyganics sunscreen recall. The question remains: Is Babyganics sunscreen safe? If you can find their mineral-based sunscreen still, and you accept the fact that the SPF50 labeling may not be accurate (the lawsuit claims it's more like SPF30), then you can decide whether it's worth using. The 2-pack of Babyganics sunscreen we purchased was about $25 for a total of 12 ounces, making this an expensive option at about $2.50 per ounce. Interested? You can check out the Babyganics sunscreen here.

Here are some points to consider when finding the best sunscreen:

There seem to be three primary risks of using spray sunscreen:

1. The risk of spray sunscreen catching fire after it is applied. The FDA reports at least 5 incidents of bodies being burned following spray sunscreen use (from a grill, cigarette, etc.).

2. The risk of chemical inhalation during application. There is concern that inhaling aerosol-borne chemical particulate matter can be dangerous for kids' health. 

3. The difficulty of seeing where you've applied sunscreen. It is hard to tell whether your kid is entirely covered when you use spray sunscreen, leading to a risk of sunburn.

Consumer Reports recommends not using spray sunblock until the FDA completes its full investigation into these issues.

Chemicals in All Sunscreen! We want to be clear that we don't know of any sunscreen options that contain no chemicals whatsoever. Whether it's oxybenzone or avobenzone, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, to protect against burns and lower your risk of melanoma you'll be applying chemicals directly to your skin. Chemicals happen to be very effective at blocking the sun's harmful rays, but some are more toxic than others 

Sunscreen Chemicals to avoid: Here are the key sunscreen chemicals to avoid, according to the Environmental Working Group: Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octisalate, and Octocrylene. Many of these tend to penetrate the skin, enter the bloodstream, and even cross the blood-brain and blood-breastmilk barrier. They also tend to be related to hormone disruption and skin allergies. And let's not forget methylisothiazolinone and parabens.

Safe Sunscreen Chemicals: Here are the relatively low-risk sunscreen chemicals, according to the same group: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone, and Mexoryl SX. There is no evidence of hormone disruption for these and they have little to no skin penetration. But each is highly effective at preventing sunburn. The best way to avoid a sunburn is to stay out of the sun or keep your body covered with clothing! But that's hard to accomplish, especially if you have one of the best trampolines for kids in your yard! In addition to sunscreen, you might also want to consider some mosquito repellent for kids when they're outdoors, especially in mosquito prone areas or they're out near dawn or dusk. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Babyganics sunscreen safe? The Babyganics mineral-based sunscreen has come under fire recently, including being the target of a class action lawsuit. The complaint alleges that Babyganics mineral-based sunscreen does not provide the SPF claimed on the packaging. Rather than SPF50, the complaint says that independent testing showed it is more like SPF30. So that makes us answer No, the Babyganics sunscreen is not safe to use, unless you use it like a lower SPF sunscreen.

Was there a Babyganics sunscreen recall? No, we cannot find any evidence that the Babyganics sunscreen has been recalled by Babyganics or its parent company KAS Direct. Babyganics has discontinued their mineral-based sunscreen, however, likely due to the class action lawsuit.

What is the best baby sunscreen? A good mineral-based sunscreen with a high SPF is the way to go. In our testing, we have found the Sun Bum Baby Bum mineral-based sunscreen lotion to be effective, high quality, non-toxic, eco-friendly, and relatively inexpensive. We also really like the ThinkBaby, Blue Lizard, and Alba Botanicals mineral-based sunscreens for babies and toddlers.

What sunscreen SPF to use on a baby? At least SPF 50, but even higher is better. And limit their direct sun exposure, have them wear long sleeves and pants when possible, and put a sun hat on their head. Be sure to reapply the sunscreen repeatedly, try to keep your baby in the shade, and watch them closely for signs of a sun burn.

What age can babies wear sunscreen? The Mayo Clinic and other health and pediatric organizations advise against using sunscreen on an infant younger than 6 months old unless it is the only option. Instead, they advise to keep your baby out of the sun as much as possible. When you must use a sunscreen on a baby under 6 months old, use a mineral-based sunscreen.

Can adults use baby sunscreen? Of course. The only difference is that baby and toddler sunscreens tend to be more sensitive, contain fewer toxic ingredients, and have a higher SPF. Adults should be using a higher SPF, and they can only benefit from fewer harmful ingredients and more sensitive formulations.

What brand of sunscreen is safe? Sunscreen safety, especially for babies, comes down to three issues. First, not using toxic ingredients. Second, having a high enough SPF to adequately protect the baby or toddler. Third, frequently and adequate applications as instructed by the manufacturer. If you do all of those, you can get a high SPF sunscreen with no toxic ingredients, and use as directed. Great examples are the Baby Bum mineral based sunscreen, Blue Lizard, and ThinkBaby mineral sunscreens.

Is Sun Bum Baby Bum a good sunscreen? Yes, in our testing, we have found the high SPF and mineral-based options very effective, non-toxic, easy to apply, and not sticky or smelly.


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